“I cannot fail to note with bitterness the absence of the leaders of the industrialized world”, thundered Macky Sall, president of Senegal and of the African Union, during the opening of the Summit on climate adaptation in Africa, September 5 in Rotterdam. At his side, the Ghanaian and Congolese presidents, Nana Akufo-Addo and Félix Tshisekedi, the Ethiopian president Sahle-Work Zewde, as well as Moussa Faki Mahamat, president of the AU commission. None could hide their anger. And for good reason. African leaders have traveled especially to Europe to obtain from the so-called industrialized countries, the main polluters, more funding to help the continent better adapt to climate change, including Africa. is not not responsible: the continent has generated… 3% of carbon emissions since 1850. The ire of African leaders is all the greater as they hoped to mobilize 25 billion dollars, and left with the promise of a small envelope of 55 million.
Climate: when Western polluters snub Africa
The urgency is there, however, on all fronts. At the same time, 6,000 kilometers away, torrential rains fell on Dakar and N’Djamena. In the two capitals, the same images of inhabitants in canoes in streets transformed into torrents of muddy water. In Niger, floods killed more than 75 people between July and August. While such rainfall is common at this time of year, such a level of intensity had not been observed since 1990 in the case of Chad, where there are 340,000 disaster victims. Proof if needed that, faced with the climatic disasters that follow one another on the continent as elsewhere, urban areas and their inhabitants are on the front line.
Financing the urban transition
Extremely rapid urbanization combined with poor or non-existent urban planning has given rise to thousands of informal settlements often erected on unbuildable areas, lacking sanitation, drainage and water supply systems, which are particularly vulnerable to climate change. The concreting of the floors prevents water from infiltrating and causing runoff in the event of rain. Informal jail housing that stretches as far as the eye can see in outskirts of urban centers capture heat faster than elsewhere. Repeated floods damage buildings, often built without compliance with standards, and increase the risk of collapses.
Senegal: can we save Dakar from the wreckage of rain?
Over the past thirty years, African cities have absorbed an additional 500 million people. A figure that will reach more than 900 million over the next thirty years. Thirteen of the twenty most populous cities in the world will be African in 2100. Even if, economically, urban areas have managed to maintain superior performance to rural areas, the financing needs to support this transition remain colossal.
This is also the purpose of the second pillar of the Acceleration Program for Adaptation in Africa, presented in Rotterdam, which recommends “accelerating the resilience of infrastructures with nature-based solutions to adapt urban infrastructures and rural areas to the current and future climate of Africa”. The need is estimated at 93 billion dollars per year.
Villages that become cities, sprawling megalopolises, clusters of cities that span several countries… To think about the city of tomorrow, one must above all understand the dynamics of past and current urbanization. Where are the urbanized areas of the continent? What will be the big megacities of tomorrow? Where are the cities with the highest growth rate? Does the city still remain a vector of social progress? Decryption in infographics.