Africa's 'resilient cities' plan for the future
Updated 0202 GMT (1002 HKT) February 23, 2017
(CNN)The effects of climate change may not be apparent in some parts of the world just yet.
But in Dakar, the battle against nature has already begun, with coastal erosion wreaking havoc on the city's peninsula that stretches into the Atlantic — forcing people to move out of their homes and ruining its long, sandy beaches.
By 2080, more than 300 buildings and 60 percent of its beaches could be gone, according to a 2013 report.
But now, the Senegalese capital of some 2.5 million people is fighting back, with a master plan for tackling the challenges brought on by a changing climate and growing population.
As one of the world's 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) — a project by the Rockefeller Foundation which lists resilient world cities tackling everything from rising sea levels and coastal erosion to housing and energy challenges — Dakar is the first of eleven African cities to introduce a so-called resilience strategy, a key milestone in the program.
"Africa is one of the front lines in terms of urbanization globally. People are moving out of the villages and into the cities at a pace unprecedented in history," says Michael Berkowitz, President, 100RC.
The aim is to provide a model for what a new, more resilient urbanization might look like.
"A sort of global revolution in the way we think about urbanization," Berkowitz says.
The Rockefeller Foundation has allocated $164 million to the program, which will fund a chief resilience officer for each city to draw up a resilience plan and provide support and a network of expertise.
Dakar's resilience challenge
"Climate change is our biggest threat," says Dakar's chief resilience officer Antoine Faye. He fears that rising sea levels and coastal erosion, which has been linked to climate change, could obliterate the city's tourism industry.
"We have a nice beach with hotels, but these will disappear and there will be no tourists left," Faye adds.
Also residential houses have been destroyed, partly due to a change in rain patterns which has resulted in flash floods over the past three years, says Faye. "We see this every day."
The excess water has dangerous knock-on effects. "You have more mosquitoes. We've tried to eradicate malaria, but we're losing the fight now."
The resilience plan looks at waste management, improving public transport and reinventing the green spaces which have fallen victim to urbanization.
"Climate change is likely to change rain patterns. Sometimes there will be more rain, leading to flooding, or there will be less rain leading to drought and heat," Berkowitz says.
"Green spaces help moderate those impacts by absorbing rainwater — like the city's sponge — and they keep the temperatures more moderate in the hottest, driest months."