As a member of Urban Africa Risk Knowledge, a research and capacity-building program seeking to establish an applied research and policy agenda for risk management in urban sub-Saharan Africa, KDI carried out in-depth research into upgrading initiatives in Kibera to answer the question: do they promote risk or resilience? Why?
Major developments are underway in Kibera and other informal settlements across sub-Saharan Africa.
While these upgrades offer the potential to improve living conditions and reduce risk, they can also have negative effects on social cohesion and the relationships between community and government. In doing so, they can inadvertently increase risk.
KDI facilitated research in Kibera that focused on the impacts of three slum upgrades, particularly in the issues of flooding and crime.
339 respondents evaluated the changes they had recently experienced in focus groups and interviews, highlighting the successes and failings of upgrading projects and how they could better build resilience.
The findings, which were published in a peer-reviewed journal, showed that slum upgrades can reduce risk and promote resilience if they do three things.
First, they must strengthen the community’s relationship with government through consultation and accountability; second, build social bonds between ethnic groups; and third, they should address challenges holistically through integrated interventions.
Along with research conducted by other UrbanARK members in Ibadan, Nigeria, Karonga, Malawi, and Niamey, Niger, this study is shifting development conversations and exposing international practitioners and policy-makers to new knowledge of risk and resilience.
This will enable more community-engaged, holistic, and therefore effective upgrading initiatives across sub-Saharan Africa.