Managing flooding risk in Cape Town

09 November 2010

Achieving well-governed and sustainable cities is becoming increasingly important to the future health of the planet. The African Centre for Cities aims to partner closely with African universities and policy-making centres to provide an alternative perspective on dealing with critical urban issues.

UCT's African Centre for Cities provides an intellectual base and home for interdisciplinary, urbanrelated research at UCT, from which relations can be established with selected international think-tanks, scholars, social movements and funders. Recent research initiatives include a three-year initiative that will explore options for a collaborative response to urban flooding and sea-level rise in the Western Cape, with Cape Town's Philippi (a high flood-risk area that's been hit hard by storms in recent winters) as a case study.

Led by Dr Gina Ziervogel, researchers will work closely with a range of stakeholders – the City of Cape Town and community groups in Philippi among them – to see how risk management and response may be strengthened by getting all these stakeholders to work off the same script. And as equals.

"At the moment, the response to floods and climate-variability risk is managed in a very technical, top-down way by the City of Cape Town," says Ziervogel. "And we believe there's room for a multilevel, interactive response."

The study will involve examining flooding issues related to climate change, urban development, vacant land and housing. The project is funded by Canada's International Development Research Centre and the UK's Department for International Development, and falls under its Climate Change Adaptation in Africa programme.

Other partners at UCT are the African Security and Justice Programme in UCT's Centre of Criminology, the Geomatics Department and the Cape Urban Observatory. External partners include the City of Cape Town, Shack-Dwellers International and the Stockholm Environment Institute.

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