Resilience in South Africa's Urban Water Landscape

Resilience is becoming a core concept in water governance. It refers to the ability of communities, cities or regions to withstand the challenges posed by an increased intensity and frequency of floods and droughts.

Resilience often involves adopting diverse, flexible, adaptive and redundant or supplemental systems. This pertains to both physical infrastructures and governance arrangements. Resilience in the urban water sector also focuses on restoring and maintaining water ecosystems, such as wetlands, rivers or streams.

The Stockholm-based Resilience Alliance and other Euro-American institutions have largely driven the frameworks for resilience. However, they are now increasingly being applied in African cities. For example, Accra, Cape Town, Dakar, Durban, Enugu and Kigali are all participating in the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative. Each city appoints a chief resilience officer to lead action on addressing its specific resilience challenges. For Cape Town these include civil unrest, rainfall flooding, infrastructure failure and disease outbreaks.