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Publications

"In expanding informal neighborhoods of cities in sub-Saharan Africa, sustainable management of storm and wastewater drainage is fundamental to improving living conditions. Planners debate the optimal combination between "green" or natural infrastructure, traditional "grey" infrastructure, and "blue" infrastructure, which mimics natural solutions using artificial materials. "

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This paper investigates the effect of NBS in cities and argues that a better understanding of their effectiveness as well as costs and benefits is needed.

Image by Jackie DiLorenzo

"Hybrid (or multi-actor) governance has been identified as a key opportunity for upscaling urban nature-based solutions (referred to as urban NBS), representing a demand-driven and cost-effective realization of urban green infrastructure. However, it is unclear how such hybrid governance affects the justice outcomes of urban NBS.."

Image by Artem Maltsev

Roy et al. note that NBS in sub-Saharan Africa are "yet to make much headway." Their paper examines the impact of climate change on urban green structures in Dar es Salaam. One take-away message: cultural ecosystem services are of greatest importance to informal dwellers.

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Thorn, J. P. R., Aleu, R. B., Wijesinghe, A., Mdongwe, M., Marchant, R. A., & Shackleton, S. 2021

Mainstreaming nature-based solutions for climate resilient infrastructure in peri-urban sub-Saharan Africa.

The authors analyse barriers and enablers to mainstreaming green infrastructure in informal settlements in Windhoek and Dar es Salaam. They find that, at the community level, the main barriers were related to design, maintenance, and performance.

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In examining the effectiveness of NBS to water-related risks in Africa, the authors conclude that site-specific urban interventions can reduce flood risk and pollution if local knowledge is included in design and implementation plans.

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This paper pursues the critical task of investigating to what extent NBS projects actually reinforce existing inequalities or create new forms of social exclusion. The authors suggest that project designs must recognise inequalities in the social geographies of how people connect to nature. Only then a more equitable distribution of access to urban nature could be guaranteed.

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"When green is grievous" looks at undesirable effects of NBS – trees hiding mosquitoes or wetlands carrying bad smell – in the context of urban informal settlements. Adegun argues that understanding the downsides in human-nature interactions helps inform ecologically sound interventions in informal areas.

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An important contribution which argues that top-down master plans of nature-based infrastructure (NBI) do not work in the context of urban informal settlements. Not only are broad coalitions needed, but the green space managers on the ground must be incentivised to maintain the NBI.

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This paper investigates the possibilities of an integrated nature-based approach to develop public open spaces in sub-Saharan Africa as public green spaces, drawing on placemaking and NBI.

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Lindley, S., Pauleit, S., Yeshitela, K., Cilliers, S., & Shackleton, C. 2018

Rethinking urban green infrastructure and ecosystem services from the perspective of sub-Saharan African cities.

Lindley et al. acknowledge that decision-makers in many African cities frequently lack the scientific evidence through which their environmental policies might be made more effective. The authors suggest that more efforts must be made to understand urban ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa to develop context-specific conceptual, theoretical and empirical foundations.

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Studying NBS in Eastern and Southern Africa, the authors contend that the creation and design of resilient urban environments can only succeed if city dwellers are granted civic participation in urban resources and an active participation in the design of their living environment. Accordingly, a better understanding of the links between urban NBI and the right to the city is urgently needed.

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Du Toit et al. identify seven barriers in the implementation of NBS in urban areas: (i) socio-cultural values, traditions and perceptions; (ii) lack of capacity; (iii) governance, urban planning and social inequality; (iv) lack of data and/or case studies; (v) ecosystem disservices; (vi) spatial trade-offs and conflicts; and (vii) climate change.

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Cilliers, J., Cilliers, S., & Lategan, L. 2021

Nature-Based Solutions for Public Green Spaces in Sub-Saharan Africa–Integrating Place-Making and Green Infrastructure.

This paper investigates the possibilities of an integrated nature-based approach to develop public open spaces in sub-Saharan Africa as public green spaces, drawing on placemaking and NBI.

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Produced by some of the leading thinkers on NBS, this paper highlights the main needs for future NBS science and NBS policy agendas. Though published in 2016, the framework is still highly relevant today.

Image by Anthony Bautista

This paper highlights limitations in the current conceptualisation and implementation of NBS in the context of informal settlements. The authors propose a Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) that helps analyse and identify opportunities to overcome such limits.

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Du Toit et al. identify seven barriers in the implementation of NBS in urban areas: (i) socio-cultural values, traditions and perceptions; (ii) lack of capacity; (iii) governance, urban planning and social inequality; (iv) lack of data and/or case studies; (v) ecosystem disservices; (vi) spatial trade-offs and conflicts; and (vii) climate change.

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Loan Diep, Joe Mulligan, Martha Akinyi Oloo, Loė Guthmann, Mussa Raido and Tim Ndezi. 2022

Co-building trust in urban nature: Learning from participatory design and construction of Nature-Based Solutions in informal settlements in East Africa

While the amount of research on NBS is growing rapidly, there is a lack of evidence on community experiences of NBS design and implementation, particularly from low-income and informal settlements of African cities. This paper adds new empirical evidence in this space through grounded analysis of NBS “niche” projects co-developed by intermediary organizations and communities in five sites across three settlements in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Findings are organized around four established NBS knowledge gaps: (1) NBS-society relations; (2) Design; (3) Implementation; (4) Effectiveness. 

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Produced by some of the leading thinkers on NBS, this paper highlights the main needs for future NBS science and NBS policy agendas. Though published in 2016, the framework is still highly relevant today.

Image by Luiza Giannelli

More coming soon!

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