According to the latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the battle against climate change will be fought largely in urban areas. By 2050, an additional 2.5 billion people are projected to live in cities, with up to 90 percent of this increase concentrated in Africa and Asia. Because of sea-level rise and increases in tropical cyclone storm surge and rainfall intensity, over a billion people in low-lying cities and settlements will be at risk from coastal-specific climate hazards by 2050.

One of these cities is Abidjan, the economic capital of Côte d’Ivoire, where one out of four Ivoirians is expected to live by 2025. The Abidjan Autonomous District already comprises the highest demographic concentration in the country, with between 5 million and 6 million inhabitants—or 20 percent of Côte d’Ivoire’s total population—and nearly 45 percent of its urban dwellers. It also accounts for over 60 percent of the country’s economic activities.

However, basic sanitation, solid waste management, and stormwater infrastructure facilities in Abidjan have not kept pace with its rapid urban growth. Combined with the effects of illegal waste dumping, which make flooding worse, over 26 percent of the district’s area is at risk of landslides and floods, including coastal flooding.

The City Resilience Program (CRP), supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance, builds resilient cities by increasing access to tools and technical support to enable resilience planning, expanding access to financing to ensure more investments in resilience, and leveraging global partnerships to support resilience objectives. CRP’s planning and financing pillars combined in Abidjan to provide a City Scan and financial advisory services to implement a resilience-enhancing waste management system.

The City Scan—a rapid assessment of a city’s key urban characteristics and resilience challenges—helps drive discussion of the need for resilient infrastructure planning among city stakeholders and World Bank operations teams. This assessment found that a considerable portion of Abidjan’s critical infrastructure—about 22 percent of major roads, 23 percent of schools, and 18 percent of hospitals—was located in flood risk zones. The City Scan served as a critical conversation starter between World Bank teams and Abidjan city representatives about the urgent need for resilient infrastructure.

Following an initial conversation on Abidjan’s resilience needs, the government requested that CRP provide more assistance to the city through the World Bank’s Urban Resilience and Solid Waste Management Project, which aims to reduce flooding and improve solid waste management in targeted municipalities in Abidjan and across the country. CRP’s finance pillar contributed advisory services to support the consideration of how to best contract the construction and operation of the proposed new solid waste management facilities—an initiative that looks to match the capacity of the private sector with the need to address an important cause of flooding in the city.

Lesson Learned

By highlighting hazard exposure through data, the City Scan for Abidjan illuminated risk patterns that municipal decisionmakers had not considered before. The findings of the study and the subsequent financial advisory services provided by CRP informed $124 million of World Bank investments in Côte d’Ivoire through the Urban Resilience and Solid Waste Management Project. The combination of technical expertise, global experience, and local knowledge in both the City Scan and the financial advisory services provided by CRP is helping lay the groundwork for coordinated, well-planned resilience investments in Côte d’Ivoire.