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Sustainable Communities

Tackling the drivers of East Africa’s surprising earthquake risk

Ana Campos Garcia's picture
A view of East Africa’s Rift Valley, home to the world’s largest seismic rift system. Photo : J. Waturi/World Bank


With all the other hazards facing Africa, it’s easy to forget that East Africa is home to the 6000-km long Rift Valley System—the largest continental seismic rift system on earth. The sub-region covers 5.5 million km2 and is inhabited by about 120 million people.

The Rift Valley is not subject to the high-magnitude earthquakes that we see along subduction zones, such as those in the Ring of Fire—the area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean known for its many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions—which can produce catastrophic consequences, as we’ve just seen in Indonesia. In the Rift Valley, residents have not experienced a high-magnitude earthquake in their lifetime, leading many people to deduce that the seismic risk is low or non-existent.

Understanding Niamey’s flood risk through open source mapping, drones, and modeling

Vivien Deparday's picture
Also available in: Français



For thousands of years, the Niger River has been the lifeblood for not only Niger, but also its neighboring countries in the Niger River Basin. Yet, even as many Nigeriens depend on the mighty waterway for food, water, and livelihoods, the Niger River also poses a severe flood risk to the West African country during the rainy season. In the third quarter of 2017, widespread flooding due to heavy rains claimed the lives of over 50 people and displaced nearly 200,000.

Côte d'Ivoire: Ensuring that tomorrow comes

Jacques Morisset's picture
Also available in: Français
Photo: Mighty Earth


It is easy to be alarmed about climate change, and, unfortunately, with good reason.  Although experts cannot predict the future with certainty, they agree that Côte d’Ivoire will experience hotter temperatures and more variable, albeit more intense, rainfall, with masses of land being engulfed by rising sea levels. Deniers, the indifferent, or simply those who have little choice but to live in the present typically either advocate a wait-and-see approach or, at best, delayed action.

Working to make children’s dreams of quality education come true: Insights from Ethiopia

Teklu Tesfaye's picture
An existing classroom awaits an upgrade in Tigray.  Esayas Nigatu/World Bank


“I want to be a doctor when I grow up. I want to help people like the doctor at the hospital who helped my mother” said the little eight-year old girl, full of confidence. She was one of about 50 children attending a primary school in Tahtay Adiabo Woreda in Tigray. The little girl was talking to a World Bank team visiting the area and the Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP).

An ode to the lady in blue in Kassala State, Sudan

Dora N. Cudjoe's picture
The Sudan Sustainable Natural Resource Management Project aims to transform livelihoods in Sudan villages. Photo: EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations/FlickR

On a beautiful fall afternoon in 2017, I visited a “female only” village in Telkouk locality, Kassala State, Sudan. There, a woman dressed in blue caught my attention. We were wearing the same color that day, and I soon found that she and I shared a few other things in common.

Celebrating World Environment Day and building resilience in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Robert Reid's picture
Samking Koihinah Braima, deputy minister of Agriculture and Forestry, plants a tree on behalf of President Julius Maada Bio. Photo: Asad Naveed/World Bank

To celebrate World Environment Day, hundreds of Freetonians came together to plant a tree in honor of the more than 1,000 people killed and missing after devastating landslides and floods tore through Freetown less than a year ago. The landslide and flood waters ripped through the capital city with tremendous energy, destroying everything in its path. It was reported that a huge wave of boulders, building debris and mud cascaded down the river channel immediately after the landslide. The disaster affected more than 6,000 people and caused significant destruction and damage to critical infrastructure.

Beyond no harm: Addressing gender-based violence in development responses to displacement impacts in Uganda

Margarita Puerto Gómez's picture
Inclusive education goes beyond merely increasing enrollment of girls in schools, but making sure that the school environment is conducive for them to thrive and stay in school longer. Photo: Rachel Mabala/World Bank


Do good intentions matter if they end up contributing to harm?

In 15 years of working in international development, I have asked myself this question many times, and the answer is always complicated. I learned working on the Uganda Development Responses to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP) that even the most straightforward interventions – building a school, for example – can contribute to unintended consequences if they are not well thought-through. As Dr. Robert Limlim, DRDIP’s director, put it: “You build a school and it does not cause harm, but this school is built under social contradictions that impede equal access to education for boys and girls. If we want to transform social dynamics, doing good is not enough, we need to systematically address Gender Based Violence (GBV) in development responses to forced displacement.”

Ségou, an Example of Participatory Urban Planning in Mali

Zié Ibrahima Coulibaly's picture
Also available in: Français
Abandoned for a long time owing to its state of disrepair, the newly renovated Ségou municipal stadium is once again hosting the commune’s sporting events and strengthening social cohesion. Photo: The World Bank

According to World Bank data, 80% of global GDP is derived from urban centers.  It is therefore clear that currently, cities play a key role in development.

A few years ago, when we visited Ségou, the regional capital and administrative center of the Cercle de Ségou, composed of 30 communes and located 240 kilometers from Bamako, we were able to witness a perfect illustration of the paradox of Malian cities, discussed at the 2018 Bamako Forum—although they are expanding rapidly, the economic growth potential offered by an urban area is not being realized in many Malian cities.  This paradox is attributable to inadequate urban planning, which hampers the ability of the commune to be functional, economically inclusive, safe, and resilient.

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