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Building Resilience in East African Cities: The Spirit of 'Harambee': Adaptive Capacity: The Nexus Between Sustainability and Climate Change Response

posted on 2023-05-24, 04:37 authored by Kithiia, J, Lyth, A

Climate change presents one of the greatest challenges to sustainable urban futures in low income countries and is likely to significantly increase current vulnerabilities and the capacity of urban administrations to continue providing opportunities and services to their ever increasing number of inhabitants. For example, in the East African cities of Mombasa (Kenya) and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), rapidly growing urban populations and the urbanization of poverty have caused huge intra-urban social inequalities, and present an enormous challenge for economic development and the delivery of adequate infrastructure. The impact of climate change will further compound the issues of urban poverty, and local economic development, as well as affecting local natural resources and landscapes. The degree of vulnerability faced by these cities is dependent on the degree of exposure to a range of critical climate change pressures and threats (from sea level rise through to changes in the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events), and the cities' sensitivity to the pressure caused by the specific events that they experience. The degree of successful adaptation is linked to the degree of sensitivity of a number of subsystems within the urban environments: socio-economic, institutional, physical and ecological. The other factor will be the temporal aspect of the change; if the changes are gradual or abrupt, this will greatly impact these cities' ability to adapt.

In East African cities, the infrastructure to cope with a myriad of day to day pressures, ranging from the provision of adequate housing, clean water supply, reliable energy, transportation and opportunities for work, is already near or lacking in capacity. The impact of climate change will further complicate the challenges associated with these basic urban requirements and the provision and consumption of these in a sustainable way. For example, it will also impact on long-term patterns of material and energy consumption, water supply and demand, infrastructure design and maintenance requirements, and accessibility to and demand for public services.


Publication title

Values in Sustainable Development


J Appleton






School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences



Place of publication

Oxon, United Kingdom



Rights statement

Copyright 2014 selection and editorial material, Jack Appleton; individual chapters, the contributors

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Climate change adaptation measures (excl. ecosystem)

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