Revised Write-up

COVID-19 in African Cities: Impacts, Responses and Policies
27 June 2020 - The report proposes several interventions to promptly and effectively address the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic in Africa at the urban level led by national and local governments supported by international and regional development institutions.

27 June 2020 - COVID-19, a global pandemic declared by the World Health Organization (WHO), is crippling the global economy and upending people’s lives thereby threatening sustainable development across all its dimensions. Africa is also facing the dire consequences of the crisis, necessitating timely response, recovery and rebuilding policies and strategies. Globally, urban areas are the epicenters of the epidemic accounting for most of the confirmed COVID-19 cases.

UN-Habitat in collaboration with UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG), African Development Bank (AfDB), and Shelter Afrique have joined hands to produce this new report: COVID-19 in African Cities: Impacts, Responses and Policies.

The report proposes several interventions to promptly and effectively address the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic in Africa at the urban level led by national and local governments supported by international and regional development institutions.

Download the Full Report Here:

Online Course - Development and Planning in African Cities
22 June 2020 - As African cities grow, learn how development and planning help urban actors to make cities just and sustainable for all.
22 June 2020 - In the next 35 years, Africa will need to accommodate almost 900 million new urban dwellers. Hundreds of smaller cities are doubling in size every 20 years, half of Africa’s urban dwellers live in informal settlements in precarious conditions, and 75% of these are younger than 35.

Development and Planning in African Cities: Exploring theories, policies and practices from Sierra Leone will explore African cities through the lenses of spatial justice and social diversity, challenging myths and assumptions about urban development and demonstrating how different processes interact and shape the development of a city.

What topics will you cover?

Week 1: Introduction to development and planning in African cities

  • What is development? What is planning?
  • Normative crosscutting lenses: spatial justice and social diversity
  • Urban change and the evolution of planning

Week 2: Urban land & informalities

  • Diversity of meanings, values, and functions of urban land
  • Formal and informal urban land markets and tenure systems
  • What are urban informalities? Economic and spatial dimensions of informality

Week 3: Governance & planning

  • Devolution of powers and fiscal autonomy
  • Scales: city-level, metropolitan, regional
  • Participatory planning (planning from below)

Week 4: Urban risk, vulnerabilities & infrastructure

  • Understanding urban risk and coping/adaptation strategies
  • Urban health
  • Co-production of urban infrastructures.

Course Instructors:

  • Andrea Rigon is working on inequalities, diversity and cities in global South. Based at Bartlett Development Planning Unit, University College London. Founder of Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre. T: @rigonandre
  • Joseph M Macarthy is an urban research expert and a well-established scholar in urban planning and management. He is the Executive director of SLURC and lectures at Njala University.

Who is the course for?

  • The course is open to people from any disciplinary background with a desire to learn about urban development and planning in African cities and potentially to those who would like to pursue a career in urban development or planning.
  • It is suitable for urban professionals who work or may in the future want to work in Sub-Saharan Africa and would like to gain an understanding of how its cities are made and developed.

Start Date: The course is available now and will take four week to complete. The start date is flexible and can be selected on the course website.

To Register and Find More Information on the Course:

Sustainable Reconstruction: A Framework for Inclusive Planning and Financing to Support Green Transition in the Arab States Region

This framework represents a comprehensive guide for Arab countries emerging from conflict and crisis situations to design and implement sustainable reconstruction activities that accelerate efforts towards building forward better. Drawing on analyses of over 100 reports and consultations with multiple stakeholders across relevant sectors, including government officials, planners, investors, and others, in Iraq, Libya, the State of Palestine, Sudan, and elsewhere, the framework serves as an operational tool laying out valuable insights and practical recommendations for action by governments and partners across the region.

Sustainable Reconstruction: A Framework for Inclusive Planning and Financing to Support Green Transition in the Arab States Region

Originally published by UNDP, UN-Habitat, and Oliver Wyman on 15 September 2023

The Arab States region is subject to ongoing challenges from political upheavals, socio-economic disparities, conflicts and terrorism to natural disasters, desertification, periodic dust and sandstorms, and water scarcity. The cumulative impacts lead to significant pressures on and, at times, an outright destruction of infrastructure, displacement of populations, and environmental degradation. Sustainable reconstruction is an important component for any post-conflict and post-crisis strategy that can contribute to sustainable and lasting peace, stability, and prosperity.

Access the full publication here or download the attached PDF of the publication

How African Cities are Managing Climate-induced Migration

Secondary cities in Sub-Saharan Africa are taking action to integrate climate-induced displaced people and mitigate the impact of climate change over the long term. 

How African Cities are Managing Climate-induced Migration

Originally published by Cities Alliance on 25 May 2023

Global displacement is rising, and today around 80 million people in the world – one out of every 95 – are displaced. Many flee due to conflict, but growing numbers are forced to move for climate reasons. 

Although data on climate-related migration is scarce, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimates that from 2010–2019, 23.1 million people were displaced because of weather-related events such as drought, flooding, and sea level rise. 

Where do these migrants go? In line with the global trend of increasing urbanisation, they are moving to the nearest safe city, town or peri-urban area – many of which are already severely under-resourced and struggling to provide services to their burgeoning populations. 

Despite the challenges, secondary cities in Sub-Saharan Africa are taking action to integrate climate-induced displaced people, tap into the potential they represent for local economic growth, and mitigate the impact of climate change over the long term. 

They cannot afford to wait. With the projected urbanisation over the next 30 years in sub-Saharan Africa, without environmental planning, cities will contribute negatively to climate change and risk in both urban and rural areas will increase, triggering more displacement.



Kakuma refugee camp, Turkana County, Kenya. With adequate planning, cities can set a trajectory for sustainable growth that will help mitigate climate change. 

Strategies for City Planning 

With funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Cities Alliance Migration Programme is producing new evidence on climate-related urban migration and secondary cities through research and pilot programming. Some of the key strategies emerging from this work include: 

  • Engage city actors in planning and decision-making: This helps ensure that initiatives are funded and implemented locally and provides insights into the needs of displaced people and host municipalities. Examples include regular stakeholder meetings and consultations before programming is decided, and locally run pilot programmes. Local engagement and facilitated peer learning among cities can help local authorities and communities increase their experience and space for action in future displacements.

  • Estimate climate-related migration: Climate-resilient urban expansion planning can give city leaders information about likely climate risks in their area and the probability they might lead to sudden inflows of people. It can also help municipalities create a framework for adaptation and mitigation investments and guide growth away from high-risk areas by offering alternative sites.  The plans can pinpoint areas where growth is likely and add predictability and scope to the long-term urban growth process. They can highlight existing water supply areas, consider future water storage and extraction needs, and protect surface water supplies. 

  • Design an arterial network: A grid can help protect water supplies, improve drainage, and safeguard other vital links, reducing flooding and maintaining connectivity and basic services during extreme events. A well-designed grid can also help municipalities prevent repeated displacements by carrying major drainage lines that ferry water away from neighbourhoods. Road rights-of-way and environmentally sensitive zones can be aligned to accommodate existing drainage patterns and promote infiltration of stormwater to help recharge groundwater sources.

  • Focus on durable solutions: Under-resourced municipal governments tend to provide only immediate and temporary solutions to climate-induced migrants. Many displaced people end up in poorly constructed urban camps and informal settlements, often in high-risk areas, which increases the risk of re-displacement. 

  • Plan for inclusion: When assessing the vulnerability of informal settlements, city leaders increasingly identify areas with good access to the job market, provide arterial roads and urban infrastructure if there is a possibility the land will be settled, and formalise them via land tenure. To support the integration of migrants, more cities are looking beyond labour market policies and focusing on how cities are planned and managed more broadly. 

  • Support labour marketsMore information, less red tape for businesses, and forward planning can help cities provide better urban infrastructure, services, and jobs. Cities respond to residents’ needs through stronger finances, capacities, and citizen engagement to generate employment and build cohesive communities. When divisions are strong, cities can target migrants with actions that improve living standards for both migrant and host communities. 

  • Consider a circular economy approach: Informal settlements and their economies are a good basis from which to transition to more circular approaches that can support climate mitigation and create economic opportunities for vulnerable groups. An integrated approach can also connect the circular economy to local livelihoods, skills, and learning, creating co-benefits of climate mitigation and socio-economic development.

  • Provide migrants with new skills. Many migrants displaced for climate-related reasons lack the skills necessary for urban life, such as displaced pastoral nomads who have lost their livelihoods to drought. It is important to identify opportunities for these migrants to pursue income-generating activities and provide the requisite training and reskilling. 

Cities Taking Action

In Jigjiga, Ethiopia, a multi-year drought has led to a partial collapse of the pastoralist economy and driven people to the city, mostly to informal settlements on the urban edge. The growing city is encroaching on the small man-made reservoir which Jigjiga depends on for water. When Jigjiga was preparing its urban expansion plan, it became clear that the city would soon surround the reservoir and water supply infrastructure, increasing the risk of water supply contamination. Planners are now working to guide growth away from that area by providing land for expansion to the west of Jigjiga. 

Gabiley, Somalia has seen a recent increase in both rural-urban migration due to climate change and refugee arrivals from Ethiopia. To address these challenges, the municipality is working with Cities Alliance and the Somaliland Refugee Agency to create reception arrivals for refugees and eventually develop a planned settlement that ensures the basic needs of forcibly displaced people are met, including providing more resources for climate-induced displaced people. 

Baidoa, Somalia is a major settlement area for IDPs fleeing drought and conflict. The municipality is responding to displacement by strengthening municipal institutions, increasing resilience through emergency preparedness, and exploring durable solutions for displaced people, including making public land available for temporary and long-term facilities and providing IDPs with land tenure documents to avoid forced eviction. Baidoa also created a Community Action Plan to promote social cohesion. 

Additional Resources

Retrieved from

Secondary cities and towns in the Sahel: Creating places of opportunity

Secondary cities and towns in the Sahel: Creating places of opportunity

Originally published on 4 April 2023 on World Bank



  • Judy Baker, Lead Economist, Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience & Land Global Practice
  • Sylvie Debomy, Practice Manager
  • Soraya Goga, Lead Urban Specialist, Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience & Land Global Practice

Bamako, Mali Bamako, Mali

High levels of poverty coupled with conflict, instability, and climate-induced disasters, make the Sahel a difficult environment for the people that live there.  Challenges from droughts and conflicts are on the rise threatening the livelihoods and food security of a large share of the population, particularly in rural areas. In search of refuge and opportunity, many are moving to cities, which are emerging as centers of resilience offering some glimmer of hope in this difficult environment. Close to five million refugees, asylum-seekers, refugee returnees, internally displaced people (IDP), and IDP returnees are estimated in the Sahel (2022 UNHCR). In Kaya, Burkina Faso, for example, a city of 120,000 (2019), the population has doubled in the previous two years due to an influx of IDP. The city is a securitized urban area, acting as a “last post/last bastion” between Ouagadougou and the conflict areas in the North, providing a safe haven for many.

The growth of cities and towns can bring opportunities through new livelihood opportunities and better access to services if well-planned and managed.  At the same time, the rapid influx of population also presents challenges as cities cannot keep up with the strains on infrastructure and services. Many settle on unsuitable land which puts residents and businesses at risk of climate impacts and the integration of new residents may be threatening to some, creating heightened social risk.  As one migrant in Sikasso put it, “At first, we were offered help. It gave us a real sense of relief. But, as you know, there’s a limit to aid. People did their best … but this couldn’t last forever.”

The study, Sahel, The Urban Link: Transforming Rural Economies and Addressing Fragility, analyzes the economic potential, fragility, and climate risk of cities/towns in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Niger, with a deeper look at three selected secondary cities - Kaya, Burkina Faso; Maradi, Niger; and Sikasso, Mali. The study points to the role these urban areas play as economic centers for the surrounding areas, particularly concerning markets and services, also providing opportunities for migrants. Analysis shows that the economic role of these cities is important and could be further developed as many have untapped potential. Border towns stand out across the region as having higher than average economic potential. 

To achieve this potential, urgent investments in secondary cities are needed.  This includes resilient basic infrastructure and services, connectivity, transformative infrastructure, capacity for urban planning and management, and opportunities for microfinance and training that will foster job creation and social inclusion. When designing such interventions, the study points to a few guiding principles and lessons:

  • Interventions should particularly focus on approaches that integrate and address the needs both of the urban area and the hinterland given the strong economic linkages; 
  • Sequencing investments can help ‘balance’ immediate urgent basic service delivery needs with long-term development.  Simple design is key for low-capacity cities, with opportunities for differing implementation modalities, particularly for fragile environments; 
  • Investing in local government capacity building is key to successful development and requires a long-term perspective for impact;
  • Targeting opportunities for jobs and human capital improvements will help to increase economic opportunities over time, with particular attention needed for women and youth to address social exclusion; and   
  • Social inclusion of the forcibly displaced should take a ‘people in place’ approach which accounts for the needs of both existing and new communities to address vulnerabilities and mitigate social tensions.

This messaging aligns closely with the recent Country Climate and Development Report: G5 Sahel, which points out opportunities to prevent risky urban growth and create climate-resilient cities, calling for policies to create a resilient urban development pathway over the next three years.

While the region will continue to evolve and face many challenges, secondary cities can offer an opportunity for many in need.  To help the cities reach their full economic potential and provide an environment of opportunity for residents, urgent priority action is needed.

Retrieved from

DigitalTransport4Africa (DT4A) Webinar Series: Measuring SDG 11.2 in African Cities: Challenges, Opportunities, and Policy Implications

During the webinar, the authors will explain the steps involved in measuring SDG 11.2, including defining city boundaries and collecting and creating data on public transport stops. They will also address the specific challenges and opportunities of measuring this goal in African cities, where paratransit is common and has no fixed routes or stops. The webinar will provide technical insights into measuring SDG 11.2 and conclude with policy implications.

DigitalTransport4Africa (DT4A) Webinar Series

Measuring SDG 11.2 in African Cities - Challenges, Opportunities, and Policy Implications

Meeting banner

Event Details:  -   Online

The DigitalTransport4Africa (DT4A) Webinar Series is a monthly webinar organized by WRI Africa and Global with DT4A consortium partners.

The goal of the series is to facilitate knowledge exchange around public transport and data initiatives taking place in African cities and beyond, especially those undertaken by the consortium partners.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) consist of 17 integrated goals that recognize the interdependence of social, economic, and environmental sustainability. They serve as a global monitoring mechanism to measure progress towards ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all by 2030.

This webinar will focus on SDG 11.2, which is defined as the proportion of an urban area with convenient access to public transport by sex, age, and persons with disabilities. The goal aims to monitor the use and accessibility of public transport systems and reduce reliance on private transportation.


  • Stefanie Holzwarth, UN-HABITAT
  • Dennis Mwaniki, UN-HABITAT
  • Dijkstra Lewis, European Commission

Register here:

Retrieved from

Blended Finance Solutions and Multi-stakeholder Partnerships to Scale Water Resilience
The session will spotlight real-life examples of projects and outcomes achieved through partnerships between financing initiatives - elevating water resilience as a policy and investment priority in subnational, national, regional, and international development and climate agendas for increased and scaled action.

Blended Finance Solutions and Multi-stakeholder Partnerships to Scale Water Resilience

Webinar by World Resources Institute (WRI) |  -  | Water Pavilion at COP27, Livestream available

Of the $100 billion in private investment towards water since 1990 only 1% has been received in sub-Saharan Africa. Addressing water-related needs, stresses, and shocks in a manner that is low-carbon and sustainable is therefore the biggest investment opportunity that will underpin all other development in the continent and across the globe.

Hosted at the Water Climate Pavilion Finance Day (co-curated with ADB & AfDB) this session will showcase several initiatives and partnerships that are blending public and private investment and know-how to accelerate investment in high-impact water resilience solutions – including the ACWA Fund & Platform.


  • Ede Ijjasz, former Regional Director, World Bank
  • Smita Rawoot, World Resources Institute


  • Ms. Stientje van Veldhoven, World Resources Institute
  • Jochen Renger, GIZ
  • Kathryn Pharr, WaterAid
  • Martin Shouler, Arup
  • Binayak Das, Water Integrity Network
  • Yasmine Abdel-Maksoud, American University in Cairo
  • David Ramos, HSBC
  • Nick O'Donohoe, British International Investment
  • Rami Ghandour, Metito
  • Colin McQuistan, Practical Action

Register to watch the livestream

Image by: jcomp/FreePik

Retrieved from

Heatwaves: Addressing a sweltering risk in Asia-Pacific
This report aims to inform and help focus strategic directions for local governments, frontline agencies, and policy makers responsible for climate and disaster risk management, urban development, and health and social protection, with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region with further attention given to the urban poor. It reviews the current knowledge about human impact of heat waves. 

Heatwaves: Addressing a sweltering risk in Asia-Pacific

by United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) | Publication Year: 2022

The last decade was the warmest on record, and leading organisations on climate change indicate that warmer temperatures are not a potential threat but a surety. This report considers ways in which disaster risk reduction (DRR), climate change adaptation (CCA), and related scientific communities can rise to data challenges in order to provide policymakers with the evidence needed to set priorities and make decisions. Given the sizeable threat posed by extreme heat events, the report details the human impacts of heat waves, ranging from individual and community health to the built environment.

The purpose of this report is to:

  1. Explore the drivers of increased risk and socioeconomic impact of extreme heat.
  2. Identify and propose priority risk management policies for reducing vulnerability and human impact of extreme heat events.

This report aims to inform and help focus strategic directions for local governments, frontline agencies, and policy makers responsible for climate and disaster risk management, urban development, and health and social protection, with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region with further attention given to the urban poor. It reviews the current knowledge about human impact of heat waves. The discussion is enriched by the expertise and practice shared by key informants from a range of fields, including but not limited to public health, meteorology, medicine, and disaster risk management.

Access the full report here (37 pages):

Local Action on Sustainable Land Management
This publication presents an updated overview of the Small Grants Programme's (SGP) community-based approach/portfolio in the area of sustainable land management as part of overall UNDP's related portfolio, with special attention to gender and youth and a spotlight on the innovative partnership with SOS Sahel International with a focus on the Sahel region. It also includes a selection of case studies to showcase best practices and lessons learnt.

Local Action on Sustainable Land Management

Originally published by UNDP on 13 May 2022

Access the full publication here:

Ninth Session of the Africities Summit
The upcoming ninth edition of the Africities Summit will be held from the 17th to 21st of May 2022 in Kisumu, Kenya. The theme of the 9th Africities Summit is “The Role of Intermediary Cities of Africa in the Implementation of Agenda 2030 of the United Nations and the African Union Agenda 2063”. 

Ninth Session of the Africities Summit (17-21 May 2022)

For the first time ever, an intermediary city, Kisumu City – Kenya, will host the 9th Edition of Africities Summit, from the 17th to the 21st of May 2022. The theme for the 9th Edition is, ‘The Role of Intermediary Cities of Africa in the implementation of Agenda 2030 of the United Nations and the African Union Agenda 2063’.

Africities is a Pan Africa conference that is convened by the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa’s (UCLG-A) and brings together the leadership of cities and sub national governments and their associations for the advancement of decentralization and local governance aimed at improving the living standards of the citizens.

Africities Summits have been held every three years since 1998 when the first meeting was held in Abijan, Ivory Coast. Other Cities to host the summit include Johannesburg-South Africa, Dakar-Senegal and Marrakech-Morocco (twice).

Register here:

Official program:

Learn more about the summit and its sessions here: