Dryland nature-based solutions for informal settlement upgrading schemes in Africa

Jessica Thorn, Jessica Kavonic, Adam Peter Hejnowicz, Robert Marchant, Olakinka Ajala, Anna Muller, Guillermo Delgado, Sheona Shackleton, Steve Cinderby

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Dryland ecosystems occupy 40% of Earth’s terrestrial surface, characterised by high spatial and temporal rainfall variability. Drylands are particularly vulnerable due to changing rainfall patterns and land degradation – aggravating poverty, food and water insecurity. This is particularly the case in rapidly growing informal settlements across Africa. Building, protecting and restoring nature-based solutions (NbS) can benefit resource-constrained informal settlements, due to cost-effectiveness, health and economic co-benefits. Yet, little effort has been made to implement NbS in fragile drylands peri-urban areas. Concurrently, less attention has been paid to adaptation in informal settlements, even though living conditions often cannot withstand extreme events. City and national governments use upgrading schemes to address rapid unplanned peri-urban growth and build resilience. In some instances, in-situ upgrading programmes combined with flexible tenure systems and NbS can significantly benefit peri-urban populations and the wider city landscape. Based on an ongoing research in Namibia, Kenya and Tanzania, the “Peri-Urban Resilient Ecosystems” partnership presents ten practical recommendations to strengthen informal settlement upgrading schemes through NbS for urban policy makers, planners, designers, shack dweller federations and local authorities operating in dryland systems. Recommendations include: (1) Integrate dryland nature-based
solutions into in-situ upgrading schemes; (2) Effectively partner with civil
society organizations and the private sector; (3) Integrate hybridised
approaches of green, blue and grey infrastructure; (4) Explore integrated approaches
to upgrading with complementary co-benefits; (5) Keep drylands alive through soil biodiversity; (6) Plant indigenous trees along roads and in households; (6) Link informal transport networks with green spaces; (7) Shift perspective from "unplanned" to "unserviced"; (9) Experiment with "untried beginnings"; and (10) Generate and use relevant data for evidence-based decision making.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventUNFCCC Conference of Parties 26 Climate Expo -
Duration: 17 May 202121 May 2021


ConferenceUNFCCC Conference of Parties 26 Climate Expo


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