Four innovative projects on resilient cities added to Wehubit portfolio
The Wehubit Programme of the Belgian development agency Enabel selected four new projects aiming to build the resilience of cities through inclusive and sustainable development. Each of the selected organisations is awarded a grant to scale-up its activities. Since 2018, Wehubit invests in digital social innovation to address societal challenges by means of financial and technical support to public or civil society organisations in Belgium’s partner countries.
The UNO estimates that 70% of the world population will live in cities by 2050. In an increasingly urban world, cities are therefore more than ever at the centre of challenges and the Sustainable Development Goals.
This is particularly the case in many African countries where urban growth, combined with the transformation of rural regions and rapid population growth, confronts cities with significant socio-economic and environmental challenges. In such a context, digital technologies can serve as a lever for resilience, particularly because of the potential they have to help to think differently and facilitate exchanges and finally because of their use in innovation and co-creation.
With this new call for proposals, 1,271,824 euros have been earmarked for four initiatives in Rwanda, Uganda, Niger and Mozambique, all of which aim to strengthen the resilience of cities through inclusive and sustainable urban development by means of digital technologies.
In Rwanda, where urban planners face a lack of resources and competences to process up-to-date land use data, the Ministry of Infrastructure plans to strengthen five cities (Musanze, Rubavu, Rwamagana, Bugesera and Muhanga) with competence development and equipment to enable more efficient data collection and analysis. These actions will be achieved through the establishment of decentralised decision rooms in the five targeted cities involving professionals as well as local authorities, members of the private sector as well as civil society and citizens, through joint working groups focused on inclusive and sustainable land use.
In Uganda, while people living in informal settlements are most affected by the health risks associated with pollution, governments and civil society lack accurate information on environmental exposure on which they can act. By funding the AirQo project of Makerere University, the Wehubit Programme supports the development of a network of locally manufactured sensors to monitor air quality. Each device transmits real-time air quality data to the digital AirQo platform, which will make it available to public authorities and the general public to improve air quality in Kampala's most affected neighbourhoods.
In Niger, in order to better understand the challenge of climate change and heat islands in particular, the u-CLIP project of VITO (Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek) and ACMAD (African Centre for Meteorological Applications for Development), in association with the City of Niamey, aims to provide projections on the impact of urban climate change in Niamey. This information, adapted to the needs of local authorities and civil society actors, will stimulate and facilitate political engagement to build resilience of Niamey in the face of climate change.
In Mozambique, at a time when major cities are facing serious waste management problems affecting the health of their residents, authorities lack data to provide an appropriate response to this waste crisis. The VIP Moz project that is supported by Wehubit is in line with Mozambique’s National Strategy for Integrated Urban Solid Waste Management. The objective is to increase solid waste collection in the cities of Nampula and Beira by 20%, particularly in disadvantaged, hard-to-reach areas. The VIP project will use the inclusive digital MOPA platform displaying on a map reports of dumps, full containers, etc. issued by neighbourhood control officers and residents and notifying by SMS in real time municipality and neighbourhood/district managers concerned and the formal and informal collection actors in order to clean up the urban and suburban environment in a participatory manner.
“These 4 new projects allow us to contribute to the work of Enabel and the Belgian Government in terms of sustainable and inclusive urbanisation and climate change. They complete a portfolio that already covers topics as varied as women's and youth empowerment, climate-smart agriculture, e-Health and digital skills. It is a pride to be associated with this programme and especially with the project-supporting organisations with which we now work in 12 of the 14 partner countries of Belgium for more digital social innovation in development.” explains Arnaud Leclercq, Manager of the Wehubit Programme.
Enabel is the Belgian development agency. It implements Belgium’s international development policy and primarily works for the Belgian State. The agency also implements actions for other national and international donors. Enabel has 1,500 staff, of which more than 70% is local personnel. Enabel manages about 150 projects, mostly in fragile states in Africa.
The Wehubit Programme was launched in 2018. It looks for and supports actors that aim to deploy and scale-up existing digital solutions. The programme primarily supports tested solutions that contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. The grants are awarded to public organisations or non-profit civil society organisations that support digital social innovation projects. Calls for proposals are regularly launched on the Wehubit website (wehubit.be) which aims to eventually share the knowledge and best practices of experiences with partner organisations.