Study authors at Arup say green and blue infrastructure – such as parks, gardens, ponds and lakes – hold key to cities’ ability to manage heavy rainfall and other impacts of climate change, such as extreme heat events
Call comes as COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh enters its second week and focuses on how urban populations can increase resilience against effects of climate change
A new study published today by Arup has revealed the “sponginess”, or natural ability to absorb rainwater, of five cities’ urban centres across Africa. This comes as leaders at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh turn their attention to Water Day.
Arup’s first-of-its-kind Africa Sponge Cities Snapshot studies a sample area of approximately 150 square kilometres in the urban centres of five diverse African cities – Cairo, Durban, Kigali, Lagos and Nairobi. Cairo’s urban centre emerges as 20% spongy – compared to Kigali (43%), Lagos (39%), Durban (40%) and Nairobi (34%).
Authors of the study are calling on African cities to protect their existing natural assets and to deploy these strategically to help become more resilient to climate-related challenges, such as increasing heavy rainfall events. This is an opportunity to leapfrog developing nations, particularly in the West – who during times of rapid growth failed to preserve their natural assets, instead too heavily relying on carbon intensive concrete solutions. Overall, the African cities studied were far spongier than those analysed in Arup’s global snapshot undertaken at the beginning of the year – with London 22% “spongy” and Sydney 18% “spongy”.