The Urban Africa Risk Knowledge (Urban ARK) programme is developing rapidly with city teams currently in final stages of preparation for fieldwork to be undertaken in each of the 6 case study sites in sub-Sarahan Africa including Niamey (Niger), Dakar (Senagal), Nairobi and Mombasa (Kenya), Karonga (Malawi) and Ibadan (Nigeria). Urban ARK aims to describe the changing nature, scale and distribution of risk as a basis for projecting and anticipating future changes in risk so that city governments – and the local communities and civil society organisations they do or could work with – can more effectively reduce risk and manage uncertainty to build resilience.
The consortia are committed to collaborative research and learning across the programme. Capacity building and long term development and policy impact are core concerns of the programme. As such, stakeholder engagement has been a major feature of the first year of the programme with a focus on awareness and partnership building amongst policy actors. Stakeholder meetings have been held in all key case study cities and have been led by city teams with participation of city researchers, risk planners and urban policy leaders. The integration of local stakeholders early on and throughout the project life cycle facilitates a clear communication strategy and this helps build a common language across the programme and ensures local priorities are captured and addressed.
Media attention around Urban ARK is growing and is important for reaching wide audiences and communicating important messages about urban disaster risk and its reduction. Recent stakeholder meetings in Ibadan http://tribuneonlineng.com/stakeholders-renew-fight-against-urban-hazards; http://newsexpressngr.com/news/detail.php?news=17307&title=DFID,-others-fund-3.3m-pounds-urban-risks-study-of-Ibadan-City and Karonga (http://mwnation.com/mzuni-puts-karonga-disasters-under-study/) have received press coverage (see also the blog caption article published in The Nation, Ibadan, 12/11/2015).
Two further major stakeholder meetings are planned for February 2016 in Lilongwe and Nairobi. These meetings will introduce Urban ARK to stakeholders working in the regions and representing international agencies based in the regions, provide an opportunity for stakeholders to comment on planned work and help shape activities in the city and region to build a reference group of stakeholders who can be kept informed of Urban ARK opportunities and activities throughout the programme cycle.