Durban 100 Resilient Cities Programme // LUMEC

June 13, 2016by Joanne Parker

The need for a resilience project in Durban has been further illuminated by the fires of protesters in recent weeks. It is with great credit to the eThekwini Metro that they have acknowledged the importance of this project and have not only commenced with research and a strategy but have created a ‘sustainability and resilience’ function within the metro.

Last week Resource attended a public stakeholder workshop where an update on the resilience programme was presented by Chief Resilience Officer, Debra Roberts. The 100 Resilient Cities Programme (100RC) was pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation in order to ‘help cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st Century’ (100 RC website). eThekwini is one of those 100 cities and has been conducting research towards a resilience strategy since 2014. This started with a preliminary resilience assessment, which resulted in six (rather broad) ‘focus areas‘. Dahlberg Consultants were then contracted to conduct further interviews, focus groups and desktop research to provide an objective view. They isolated the barriers to achieving the goals defined under the six focus areas and the root causes of these barriers. Through this, they were able to establish six ‘levers of change‘.

The resilience team felt that the levers of change were still too vague and not implementable and thus conducted further stakeholder engagement, which resulted in two ‘Resilience Building Options‘ for Durban. These are:

  • RBO 1: Integrated informal settlements planning: This includes upgrading information settlements with regard to education, environment, municipal services, social cohesion and economic opportunities and leveraging opportunities presented by the informal sector as a whole.
  • RBO2: Addressing environmental challenges in the governance of Ingonyama Trust land. Ingonyama Trust land is rich in biodiversity and is developing rapidly but there is little co-ordination between traditional leadership systems and eThekwini planning officials. This creates an opportunity to enhance communication and leverage both natural and human resources in these areas.

It is pleasing that the priorities that surfaced have brought the invisible and geographically secluded areas to the forefront of eThekwini’s resilience planning. These areas are largely unknown and excluded from planning, communication and policy but are filled with opportunity. The team are going to spend the rest of the year consulting and conducting research in order to develop a strategy and implementation plan around these two RBOs. It is recommended that all stakeholders who have an interest in the growth of eThekwini become involved in the process and throw their support behind it. This is one of the most important and forward-thinking projects to come out of the metro and the public has a responsibility to assist and to hold the city accountable to reaching these goals in an inclusive manner.

To get in touch with the team and find out more about the project see www.durban.gov.za/100RC

Joanne Parker