City Resilience Index Pilot in Arusha, Tanzania

The city of Arusha lies at the base of Mount Meru, a dormant volcano

The resiliency of an urban area relies on a complex web of factors – from institutions and processes, to infrastructure and livelihoods – that prepare citizens to survive and thrive through a myriad of shocks and stresses (natural, economic, or otherwise). Defining, understanding, measuring, and building resiliency has become a popular development approach in urban areas and a priority topic for I2UD. Last month, Research Associate Barbara Summers worked with partners from Arup to pilot a comprehensive and innovative framework to increase resiliency in Arusha – a rapidly growing African city in northeastern Tanzania.

The team spent three weeks in Arusha piloting the City Resilience Index (CRI). Arusha is one of five cities to participate in the CRI pilot program to test the feasibility and utility of the Index in different contexts around the world. The City Resilience Index (CRI) is being developed by Arup’s International Development non-profit branch with support from the Rockefeller Foundation. It builds on extensive research undertaken to establish an accessible, evidence-based definition of urban resilience, which has culminated in the publication of the City Resilience Framework (CRF). The City Resilience Index operationalizes this Framework by providing the means to measure and assess to what extent a city is achieving its resilience goals. Arusha is the first city in Africa to complete a comprehensive resilience assessment using the CRI at the city-scale.

I2UD and Arup worked with local authorities to assemble a task force that collected important information related to the four dimensions of resilience: health and well-being; economy and society; infrastructure and environment; and leadership and strategy. Some of the initial findings of the Arusha CRI pilot are highlighted below:

The Arusha Municipal Fire Department showcases one of the city's two trucks

  • There is a robust awareness of urban resilience, as well as, the shocks and stresses facing the city across a wide variety of disciplines and departments in Arusha City and Region;
  • The inability of utility systems and services to keep up with rapid growth challenges the city’s ability to provide water, sanitation, electricity, education, and health services to residents, particularly those in peri-urban areas;
  • Disaster management and emergency planning services are primarily reactionary rather than preventative;
  • There is a strong sense of community, including well-established community groups that support community security and assist in providing finance to small-scale entrepreneurs;
  • Policies exist to protect the natural environment and control development, though there is little enforcement or acknowledgement of these regulations; and
  • Budgetary constraints limit the capacity of the local government to implement resilience building projects, particularly when there are unforeseen issues, such as compensation for landowners to construct roads and infrastructure.

The information collected through the CRI pilot provides a baseline for understanding the current state of resilience in Arusha and will serve as a starting point as the city embarks upon developing a strategic urban resilience plan as part of its participation in the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) network. Arusha was selected in the second round for the 100 Resilient Cities network in December 2014 and recently held an Agenda Setting Workshop to officially launch the program. The outputs of the CRI pilot will also be incorporated into a master plan, which is currently being completed by a Singaporean firm selected by the Ministry of Lands. The assessment can be repeated over time to understand and measure the progress being made to improve the resilience of Arusha.

This work builds on over five years of I2UD engagement and partnership in Arusha, including organizing an Urban Resilience Forum in February 2015, providing technical assistance to the city as they prepared their application to the 100 Resilient Cities network, and preparing a participatory Urbanization Strategy and Urban Development Plan with Arusha from 2009-2013, sponsored by the Aga Khan University.