The Minister of State for Lands, Mr Obiga Kania, has cautioned the cities and urban areas of Uganda to change the way they grow and instead plan for sustainable resiliency in regards to management of urban hazards.
Mr Obiga stressed that climate change is one of the key emerging issues that cities must contend with, noting that the city's impacts due to climate change is a frontline challenge today.
“Cities and other urban areas like Municipalities and town councils are both drivers and victims of climate change. As cities expand, they engulf environmental and ecological systems like floodplains, forests, and wetlands that naturally exist,” he said during the commemoration of World Cities Day celebrated October 31 annually under a general theme “Better City, Better life”. This year, the day was celebrated under a sub theme “Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience”.
According to the minister, urbanization together with other interlinked forces, will always create demand for space and resources which are all finite. He explained that as a result, these contribute to natural and man-made disasters such as land degradation, deteriorating air and water quality, poor solid waste management, inadequate greenery for residents, flooding and fire which have potentially serious consequences on human health, livelihoods and urban assets.
The risks are anticipated to be even higher in unplanned areas where inadequate infrastructure leaves the urban poor and other vulnerable groups in informal settlements exposed to environmental hazards.
Mr Obiga warned that if focus and action is not taken, regional cities will be affected by climatic change and emergencies whose cost due to impacts of climate change can expand exponentially each year.
“The results of any inaction will go on to exacerbate the litany of problems in the cities and other urban areas already struggling with low household income, inadequate finances from own source revenue to deliver critical urban services, inadequate innovations in the productive sector, inadequate green technologies for jobs, urban poverty and food insecurity,” he said.
He recommended prompt planning for sustainable resilient cities and human settlement development, and collective efforts by all; urban residents, the political leaders and urban managers, developers and investors to operationalize resilience.
The Minister noted that actors should pay special focus on the regional and special cities of Uganda and support them to become resilient cities by promoting sustainable development goal 11 on sustainable and livable cities.