The issue of water supply and insecurity in light of the changing climate in Southern Africa was identified by decision-makers in Lusaka, Maputo and Windhoek as a top priority in their cities. This and other issues were identified at first few Learning Labs hosted by FRACTAL. One of FRACTAL’s aims is to uncover the burning issues that are related to climate change in each of the cities where research is taking place through a process of co-exploration. Informality was also much discussed. It is considered a permanent feature of all of these cities, and one that participants felt should be included in planning accordingly.
FRACTAL coordinated Learning Labs in Maputo and Windhoek in March this year (2017), bringing together participants not only to highlight the burning issues but also to identify what climate information could help decision-makers in these cities to plan ahead for climate change. Participants included representatives from government, NGOs, civil society and scientific organizations. In both cities participants asked how they could access and incorporate relevant climate change information and the associated variability into their planning for future growth in the cities. In Windhoek, the narrative approach, where possible future climate scenarios are presented and discussed, was well received as a way to consider how to plan for climate change – so long as the data was not oversimplified and the uncertainty was also recognised. Some participants emphasized that perhaps climate change presented an opportunity for innovation and not simply a reason to worry.
Participants at Lusaka’s first Learning Lab last year (September 2016) had already identified that city’s burning issues as water supply and flooding in peri-urban areas. As a result, a GEC Research in Africa project (funded by START) has seen the city partner with the University of Zambia to conduct participatory flooding mapping in three informal settlements as well as fieldwork related to the challenges of solid waste management. A second Learning Lab was held in Lusaka in July this year (2017) to further discuss their burning issues. At this second Learning Lab participants also delved into the limitations of Lusaka’s governing structure with regards to access to climate information and the capacity of decision-makers to act on relevant climate information.
Other issues that were highlighted as burning issues at recent Learning Labs were the need for sustainable energy resources and a lack of access to services in informal settlements.