Enhancing the Disaster Resilience of Cities within the East African Community

Research Proposal

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2016

17 Pages


Table of Contents


1. Introduction
1.1. Background
1.2. Research Problem
1.3. Research questions
1.4. Research Objectives
1.5. Significance of the Study
1.6. Definitions of Significant Terms

2. Literature review
2.1. Disasters in the global, regional and urban contexts
2.2. Engineering resilience and ecological resilience
2.3. An integrated approach to urban resilience

3. Methodology
3.1. Research Design and Procedures
3.2. Target Population
3.3. Sample Size and Sampling Procedure
3.4. Data Collection Instruments
3.5. Reliability of the Instruments
3.6. Validity of the Instruments
3.7. Data Collection Procedure and Analysis Techniques
3.8. Delimitation of the Study
3.9. Limitations of the Study
3.10. Ethical Considerations
3.11. Timetable

4. References


This research seeks to enhance the disaster resilience of cities within the EAC by: (a) developing a database of acute disasters that are common and likely to occur in cities within the EAC, (b) measuring the resilience of major cities within the EAC to these disasters, and (c) developing a policy framework for enhancing their resilience to potential hazards. It is important to conduct this study now because the present and projected demographic and geographic changes point to a future of continued: (a) rapid urbanization in developing countries – like those in the EAC - and (b) escalation in the number of urban disasters. Document review and descriptive research will be used in the study with a sample size of 104 participants being selected from the cities of Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali, and Mombasa. The collected data will be tested for inter-rater reliability, triangulated and instruments checked for content validity. Both measures of central tendency and measures of variability about the mean will be performed on the collected data.

Enhancing the Disaster Resilience of Cities within the East African Community

1. Introduction

1.1. Background

Two distinct but intertwined trends are increasingly becoming more prominent in the twenty–first century: one is rapid urbanisation while the other is “the increasing numbers of disasters and the increasing numbers of people affected by those disasters” (Brown, 2012, p. 1). In late 2014, 54% of 7.28 billion people were living in urban areas, up from 34% in 1960 (The World Health Organization (WHO), 2015). This global urban population is expected to continue growing by approximately 1.64% per year between 2015 and 2030 (Khaing, 2015) to bring the world urban population in the year 2050 to more than two thirds of 9.6 billion – the projected world population then (Vidal, 2010). On its own, rapid urbanization has exerted enormous pressure on both the environment and urban infrastructure in developing economies (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA), 2015). For instance, even though cities occupy only 3% of the planet’s land, they consume 60–80% of the planet’s energy, account for 75% of all carbon emissions, and currently accommodate over 828 million slum dwellers (UN/DESA, 2015).

Looking at the East African Community (EAC), in 2014, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi had populations (in millions) of 45.6, 38.8, 50.8, 12.1, and 10.5 respectively with their percentage urban populations being 25%, 17%, 28%, 20%, and 12% respectively but projected to rise to 44%, 32%, 53%, 53%, and 26% respectively by the year 2050 (UN/DESA, Population Division, 2014). Put simply, the number of people residing in cities within the EAC will have doubled to 217.9 million in the next three decades.

As cited by Guha–Sapir, Hoyois, & Below (2015), the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) defines a disaster as “a situation or event which overwhelms local capacity, necessitating a request to a national or international level for external assistance; an unforeseen and often sudden event that causes great damage, destruction and human suffering” (p. 7). In the past centuries, notes Brown (2012), “disasters disproportionately affected more families in rural areas than in urban areas” (p. 2) but the twenty first century has seen a paradigm shift with disasters becoming more common in urban areas where they tend to affect more people than before with magnified economic impacts.

Though disasters occur frequently in highly urbanized regions (Bull-Kamanga, et al., 2003), they tend to affect more people when they occur in the third world nations (Nanjira, 1991). For instance, between 2002 and 2011, Africa – mostly a developing region – experienced 72 of the recorded 394 natural disasters worldwide but accounted for 9.8% in the number of reported victims while Americas – a highly urbanized continent – experinced 95 (32% more) of those disasters but accounted for 3.2% in the number of victims (Guha–Sapir, Hoyois, & Below, 2015). This reality implies that cities in developing economies are more vulnerable to disasters while those in the developed regions are more resilient. The resilience of a city, town or any other form of human settlement, refers to its ability, “to resist, absorb, cope with and recover from the effects of hazards and to adapt to longer term changes in a timely and efficient manner without undermining food security or wellbeing” (Pasteur, 2011, p. 13).

1.2. Research Problem

The present and projected demographic and geographic changes point to a future where disasters will continue to increasingly occur in urban areas (Brown, 2012). It is only reasonable to speculate that challenges associated with these urban disasters will soar in developing countries where 95% of all urban expansion in the next three decades is expected to take place (UN/DESA, 2015). EAC member states are such developing economies (International Monetary Fund, 2015) and they are known for their susceptibility to disasters since time immemorial (Nanjira, 1991). The EAC states also acknowledge that they have “inadequate resources and capacities set aside to effectively prevent, prepare and respond to disasters” (EAC Secretariat, 2012, p. v). If the EAC is currently this vulnarable, then how resilient would its cities be in the event of an acute urban catastrophe? In addition, data regarding the frequency, complexity, and magnitude of disasters within the EAC is as hard to come by today (Lukamba, 2010) as was the case three decades ago (Nanjira, 1991).

1.3. Research questions

The central questions to be considered throughout the research are:

1. Which acute disasters commonly occur in major cities within the EAC?
2. To what degree are cities in the EAC resilient to disasters?
3. What can be done in order to enhance the resilience of cities in the EAC?

1.4. Research Objectives

The objectives of the study are to:

1. Develop a comprehensive database of acute disasters that are common and are likely to occur in cities within the EAC
2. Measure the resilience of cities in the EAC to the listed disasters
3. Develop a policy framework for enhancing the resilience of cities in the EAC

1.5. Significance of the Study

It is important to comprehend the disaster risks of cities in the EAC (and other developing regions) in order to institute disaster mitigation and response mechanisms that would minimize the loss of or damage to lives, livelihoods, property, infrastructure, economic activity and the environment in the event of such occurrences. The findings of this research will inform sustainable and resilience oriented urban planning activities within the EAC with the potential of being replicated in other developing regions. This research also aims at ensuring that disaster relief and humanitarian institutions have a clearer grasp on the realities of urban disasters within the EAC. This study will act as a blueprint for research activities that intend to adopt the methodology applied herein or want to come up with more robust and comprehensive frameworks for urban resilience.

1.6. Definitions of Significant Terms

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2. Literature review

2.1. Disasters in the global, regional and urban contexts

The term disaster implies a serious disruption to the normal functioning of a society. An event qualifies as a disaster when it involves widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts that exceed the ability of the affected society to cope using its own resources (Pasteur, 2011). In fact, being more specific, EM–DAT a comprehensive database on global disasters maintained by the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) – qualifies an event as a natural disaster when: it kills at least ten people, or affects over 100 people, or when it compels a nation to declare a state of emergency and/or calls for external assistance (Wallemacq, et al., 2015).

EM–DAT contains basic core data on the occurrence and impacts of at least 13,500 natural and over 8,000 technological disasters since (Guha–Sapir et. al., 2015). This data is compiled from multiple sources like UN agencies, non–governmental organizations, insurance companies, research institutes and press agencies (Guha–Sapir et. al., 2015). EM–DAT breaks down natural disasters into several sub–clusters: geographical (earthquake, mass movement (dry), and volcanic activity), hydrological (flood, landslide, and wave action), meteorological (storm, extreme temperature, and fog), climatological (drought, glacial lake outburst, and wildfire), biological (animal accident, epidemic, and insect infestation), and finally, extra–terrestrial (impact, space weather). The second category, technological disasters includes: industrial, transport, and other forms of miscellaneous accidents (Guha–Sapir et. al., 2015).

Every year, between 1994 and 2013, an average of 218 million people would be affected by natural disasters alone with a recorded 6,873 disasters claiming at least 1.35 million lives, an average of almost 68,000 deaths per year (Wallemacq, et al., 2015). This indicates that the frequency of disasters has increased over the past two decades even though in absolute terms, “the average number of people affected has fallen from one in 23 in 1994–2003 to one in 39 during 2004–2013” (p. 7). Wallemacq et al. (2015) attribute this observation to the increase in human population considering disaster related deaths have also increased over the same period reaching an average of about 100,000 deaths per year between 2004 and 2013.

Between 1994 and 2013, more than three times as many people died per disaster in low–income countries (332 deaths) than in high–income nations (105 deaths) indicating that levels of economic development are major determinants of mortality when compared to the degree of exposure to hazards (Wallemacq, et al., 2015). To emphasize this point, between 2002 and 2011, Africa experienced 72 of the recorded 394 natural disasters worldwide, yet accounted for 26.38 million (9.8%) of all reported victims, and incuring only US$ 0.99 billion (0.8%) in economic damages while America, which experinced 95 (32% more) of these natural disasters, accounted for 8.64 million (3.2%) in victims, and US$ 49.96 billion (38.4%) in economic damages (Guha–Sapir, Hoyois, & Below, 2015). Disasters cost both money and lives yet investing in one has the significant effect of cutting down on the other.

Most cities in Africa (like many in Asia and Latin America) incur high human casualties and fatalities, but minimal economic damages because of their deficiencies in terms of the required infrastructure and services while well–governed cities in high–income countries suffer less deaths and casualties but incur higher economic losses because of their high concentrations in high–value assets. For example, North Africa (the most urbanized region in Africa) experienced 13% of all disasters that affected the continent between 2000 and 2006 (IFRC, 2010). This region went on to account for 75% in disaster related damages and only 1% of all people affected by disasters in Africa within the same period (IFRC, 2010).

With more than half of humanity living in cities (Kummu, Moel, Ward, & Varis, 2011) today, “many disasters (tend to) take place in urban areas, affecting millions of people each year through loss of life, serious injury and loss of assets and livelihoods” (Bull–Kamanga, et al., 2003, p. 193). Large scale disasters, with a regional effect, now have an urban component associated with them while some catastrophic events, like the 2010 earthquake in Port–au–Prince, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the Mumbai floods in 2005, have been labeled ‘urban disasters’ because of how they overwhelmingly damaged city centres (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), 2010).

Pelling & Wisner (2012) established (from EM–DAT) that between 1997 and 2008, 3.3 million people in 28 African cities were affected by urban disasters ranging from “urban drought,epidermic, earthquakes, windstorm and floods to extreme temperatures events” (p. 25). These cost approximately US$ 631 million most (US$ 624 million) of which was attributed to flooding because the true social cost of all the other events were not captured (Pelling & Wisner, 2012). Other urban disasters that are common in Africa include “aircraft crashes, fires and explosions, ferry–boat sinkings, subsidence and sink holes, illegal dumping of hazardous materials, shack fires and traffic accidents” (IFRC, 2010, pp. 36–37). IFRC (2010) go on to add collapsing buildings, violent crimes, riots, terrorism, food insecurity, public health hazards like HIV/AIDS, and urban epidemics linked to poor water quality, inadequate sanitation and flooding as being common, adamant and prevalent hazards in and around most, if not all, cities in Africa.

2.2. Engineering resilience and ecological resilience

The available literature on resilience is notably rich and diverse – focusing on ecology and sustainability, risks and disasters, the economy, and climate change among other disciplines which mirror diifferent facets of the concept – and tends to overlap from time to time while sharing common capacities (Leichenko, 2011). Galdresi (2014) highlights these common capacities as: diversity, redundancy, adaptability, flexibility, learning capacity, resourcefulness, efficiency/effectiveness, networks, robustness, innovation, rapidity, knowledge, and self relienace. The concept of resilience, lacking a universal definition, led Seeliger & Turok (2013) to caution against its liberal use across the fields of economics, social science, regional and urban studies among other disciplines while other scholars continue to contest the value of the notion altogether (Simmie & Martin, 2010). Even so, the term resilience has a long history of use in engineering and ecology (Liao, 2012).

According to Chelleri (2012), the engineering perspective of resilience emphasizes the ability of a system to withstanding external disturbance to efficiently and quickly bounce back to its original equilibrium (steady state). This form of resilience, applicable in both physical and social systems, can be defined based on four key properties (Bruneau, et al., 2003): robustness (inherent strength or resistance), redundancy (properties that allow for substitutions), resourcefulness (ability to mobilize the needed resources), and rapidity (how fast a disruption can be countered). This, popular approach, focuses on efficiency, constancy and predictability of a failsafe design (Gunderson, Holling, Pritchard Jr, & Peterson, 2001) explaining its wide application in disaster and risk management like the use of equilibrium in mainstream economics where several “mechanisms are built into the economy to ensure that the system is not thrown off balance” (Seeliger & Turok, 2013, p. 2113). This engineering concept of resilience is limited in the sense that it advocates for repair and fine tuning of sytems, infrastructure or institutions that might already be susceptible to recurrent disturbances, hazards or disasters instead of feasible change that ensures sustainability.


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Enhancing the Disaster Resilience of Cities within the East African Community
Research Proposal
University College London
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
810 KB
Proposal for a PhD
urban disasters, resilience, East African Community, ten essentials
Quote paper
B W Namano (Author), 2016, Enhancing the Disaster Resilience of Cities within the East African Community, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/313492


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