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When it comes to developing Africa’s cities, “grow dirty now, clean up later” is not an option

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
Africa’s cities have grown at an average rate of 4% per year over the past 20 years. While rapid urbanization has helped reduce poverty and improve livelihoods in the region, it is putting increasing pressure on Africa’s natural environment and sustainable development.
 
[Download a newly launched report—Greening Africa’s Cities—to learn more about the interplay between urbanization and sustainability in Africa.]
 
Take Kampala, Uganda as an example. It is estimated that only 5% of the city’s population is connected to the sewer network, with 95% of the population having access to basic on-site, mostly shared, sanitation. As a result, the volumes of flows entering the city’s Nakivubo wetland channels have increased significantly with contaminated runoff from informal areas and partially treated wastewater from the overburdened sewage works. This has significant negative impacts on human health, wetland and lake ecological function, as well as the cost of water supply to the city from Lake Victoria’s Inner Murchison Bay.

The city is considering rehabilitating the Nakivubo wetland, but it would cost US$53 million upfront, in addition to ongoing maintenance and operating costs of about US$3.6 million per year. Although benefits would include water treatment cost savings of US$1 million and recreational benefits exceeding US$22 million per year, it is now too costly and impractical to restore the wetland to a state where benefits can be achieved.
 
How can a fast urbanizing Africa build sustainable and resilient cities and communities, while avoiding being locked into a “grow dirty now, clean up later” development path?
 
Watch a two-part video blog where World Bank Senior Director Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG) and Roland White, the World Bank’s Global Lead on City Management and Finance and lead author of the Greening Africa’s Cities report, discuss two questions:

1: What are the main challenges for Africa’s cities when it comes to environmental sustainability?




2. What can Africa’s leaders and mayors do to maintain the balance between growth and sustainability, and build sustainable and resilient communities for all?


 

Comments

Submitted by Tabi Joda on

I have planted 10575 trees across Cameroon Nigeria uganda Kenya and last week in Cancun I planted also. My mission is to plant 100 million trees as a contributing solution to cities degradation especially for disaster reduction and building resilience and sustainability for communities. I will be pleased to support this building sustainable communities project by world bank cities. Thanks

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