Ibadan is the third most populous city in Nigeria—Africa’s largest country in terms of population and economy. This city of six million also happens to be the country’s largest in terms of geographic area, but like many other cities, urbanization is largely uncontrolled, and people are exposed to disasters like floods.
Over the last three years, our team has been working hand in hand with the government of Sierra Leone to enhance urban mobility in the capital city of Freetown, and to protect the local transport system against growing climate risk. This past year have been especially hard, with remote working, multiple virtual missions, and dramatic economic slow-down in Sierra Leone.
When we launched Open Cities activities in Brazzaville, Congo, in 2019, our main objective was to help the municipalities of Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire design tools to mitigate floods and erosion risks in urban areas. Little did we know that the outcome of this work would have a powerful impact on the Congolese youth.
Advances in technologies like satellites and smartphones have transformed maps as we know them. The gold standard map is now digital. It is accessible – open data approaches mean that map data can be repurposed by many agencies, organizations, and communities at once. With the growth of crowdsourcing platforms like OpenStreetMap, it is even collaborative – anyone can contribute information to the map, improving upon the work of others.
By now, most countries have adopted a digital COVID-19 surveillance dashboard illustrating data and information such as case tracing and even geo-tagged local outbreaks. However, tracking infection rates, contact tracing, and case hotspots is not enough. There is limited integration of COVID-19 data with natural hazard data and risk information. An important next step for countries to enhance their preparedness is to identify the intersections between COVID-19 epidemiological models and risk models of natural hazards.
Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Regional Urban Resilience Conference
Each year, natural disasters kill thousands of people and cause billions of dollars in economic losses. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are not immune to these effects. The region is exposed to a growing number of shocks and hazards that affect the stability and growth of its cities. The interplay of climate change, population density, conflict and water scarcity has intensified the risk of natural disasters such as drought, flooding and earthquakes in the region. Over the last 30 years, these events have affected approximately 40 million people in MENA countries and have cost their economies about US$20 billion.