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Join us as we explore the RISE Africa themes over the next few months through the RISE Africa Roadmap of online engagements, shared resources, webinars and video provocations. Together, we will build momentum for the RISE Africa Action Festival in May 2021.
“Our cities are the manifestation of our imaginations, relationships and life experiences – we make our cities.
To make them inclusive, resilient, and restorative, it is up to us to reclaim African urban narratives. We need to boldly contribute our stories, ideas, expectations and actions. Only this way will we own and influence the future of our cities”.

~ Kobie Brand, Regional Director: ICLEI Africa

Welcome to 2021

We arrive in 2021 with the weight of last year’s challenges and losses, and a new resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have been ushered into a new paradigm of working and socialising, with many hailing ‘a new normal.’ The measures taken to mitigate the spread and impact of the pandemic have fundamentally changed our relationship with our cities and with each other, in some ways creating more distance and making plain the existing structural ruptures in our society, and in many ways growing local and international solidarity. There are abundant lessons from the responses to Covid-19, many of which were explored throughout our RISE Africa events last year. Perhaps most notably, we have witnessed that radical change is absolutely possible under the right circumstances and when priorities are made clear. We must work hard to normalise those aspects of last year which supported inclusivity, sustainability and solidarity, while using the new awareness about systemic issues, to drive change.

Last year, we were all forced to reshape much of our thinking about engagement, outreach and how we inspire action for lasting impact. While achieving the depth of direct personal interaction has been a challenge, we were all able to participate in more online events from across the globe. The amount of knowledge generation, availability and sharing has increased, and events have become much more inclusive along geographical lines. Nevertheless, we are missing the constituents who do not have consistent internet connectivity.

With the success of online knowledge sharing and engagement last year and a continuation of our online paradigm, a central question for the RISE Africa team this year is how we can effectively inspire citizens and cities to take these diverse ideas to the next step, and drive local action and impact.

Announcing RISE Africa 2021 Action Festival

24-28 May 2021 


Tentative Programme and Open Call for sessions to be announced in February 


What happened last month? 

Our Nature, Our Cities: A One Health Perspective

One Health is emerging as a concept that connects Animal, Human and Environmental Health through the ideas of shared space and codependence. This is particularly relevant in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has brought up questions around physical distance, shared environments and public health. Last month we hosted a session to reflects on what a One Health perspective could offer to reshaping public space in our cities.
We were joined by Ingrid Coetzee, Senior Manager: Biodiversity and Nature-based Solutions, ICLEI Africa, Ana Rocha, Executive Director, Nipe Fagio in Tanzania, Mario Yanez, Director, Inhabit Earth, Elizabeth Gitonga, Programme Manager for Partnerships at the Africa Early Childhood Network, and Kathryn Ewing, Senior Lecturer and Convener of the Urban Design Programme in the post-graduate programme at the University of Cape Town and a Non-executive Director of Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading Non-Profit Company in Cape Town.
The conversation drew a link between nature based solutions, such as provisioning, regulating, cultural and habitat services and key health impacts such as the quality of physical environment, poverty, access, age and gender. What the concept of One Health offers here is a direct articulation of the need for balancing priorities of human health, animal health and environmental health. This has not been conceptualised much at city-level, which has led ICLEI Africa to start a One Health Cities Centre to articulate the role of cities in driving One Health.

Public space, as a key interface of animals, environment and people is a vital area for promoting the balance articulated by One Health. We typically associate public space as cut grass and built playgrounds, yet in African cities, this is not the typical experience of public space; instead, we should consider the spaces in which people collect water, urban streets, early childhood development centres, food gardens, and retails spaces. We can take this understanding of public space in stride, by investing in safe walkways, public space livelihoods, and community food gardening.
Foodways are shared as a novel way to draw in community participation to grow food, while regenerating natural systems, in a way that all involved can thrive. Foodways are corridors of productive landscapes which repair natural systems, provide livelihoods and repair relationships with nature and between people. They can also be useful buffer zones to protect larger natural systems from development.

Where there is mismanagement of urban planning, consumption, waste disposal and environmental protection, conflicts can emerge between people and the environment. Unplanned settlements are increasingly at risk from flooding, erosion and sanitation-related health issues. In the case of Dar es Salaam, demonstrating the benefits of nature through experiential learning has been an effective strategy, particularly when engaging children in learning activities. Particularly, building a sense of ownership in cities will lead to greater urban identity and investment looking after cities.

The quality of environment is a key determinant of how our children grow and become citizens in our cities. To nurture healthy children, we need secure and safe environments, opportunities for learning particularly through exploring an environment, good health, adequate nutrition and responsive caregiving. Greenery and open space can offers inspiration and opportunity for collective play. We must consider children directly in how we plan our settlements and cities, while helping parents to understand what is important for nurturing their children.
Key actions proposed for improving public space in our cities include:
  • Redefining what public space is in African cities, beyond parks, to include the interstitial spaces in our cities
  • Address mismatch between policy and practice and follow integrated approaches that take inspiration from research, and work
  • Small changes can have big impacts, so we must protect spaces and ask, what more could be added here? What social amenities can we add to make the space useful to the public?
  • All land should serve a social purpose, belonging to all in the city, including nature and animals
  • Co-design local spaces with government, business and citizens, in ways that can reconnect people and families

Roadmap to RISE Africa 2021 Action Festival


Coming Up: Roadmap to RISE Africa 2021 Action Festival

January | Exploration of people-centred development approaches in African cities
February | What does the smart city mean for us?
March | Contemplating water access and sustainability in our cities
April | Launching the IDEAS aspect of RISE Africa
May | RISE Africa Action Festival: 24-28 May 2021


RISE Africa, brought to you by ICLEI Africa, with support from our partners: 

African Centre for Cities, NRF, South African Cities network, African Circular Economy Network, Djouman, The Nature of Cities, IIED, GSB-AGC, WWF, Tores Foundation, Covenant of Mayors SSA, AU Youth Envoy


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