Open Cities Africa is a program of the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery’s Open Data for Resilience Initiative, in collaboration with the World Bank Africa Urban, Resilience and Land Unit, made possible by funding through the European Union’s Africa Disaster Risk Financing (ADRF) program. ADRF funding supported activities carried out between June 2018 and December 2019 in the following nine cities in Sub-Saharan Africa: Accra, Ghana; Antananarivo, Madagascar; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; Monrovia, Liberia; Ngaoundéré, Cameroon; Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo; Saint-Louis, Senegal; Zanzibar City, Tanzania; and
Mahée, Praslin and La Digue, Seychelles. Funding from various sources has supported the expanded Open Cities program in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire; Bamako, Mali; Brazzaville, Congo; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Kampala, Uganda; Niamey, Niger; and Yaoundé, Cameroon.
The program sought to take the Open Cities model that had been successful in developing critical risk information in South Asia, and update it to meet disaster risk management and digital skills needs in Africa. The purpose of Open Cities Africa was to collect, update and share geospatial data, so that it could be used by local government and community leaders to inform disaster risk decision-making. Open Cities teams engaged local stakeholders in a participatory mapping process that provided them the opportunity give feedback on the challenges in their communities. Information collected was developed into tools, data products, and geospatial databases which inform government and World Bank investments in flood risk management, urban upgrading, and other urban resilience activities. Through the process the capacity of local organizations and team members was enhanced, and a skilled cohort of African practitioners was developed.
Over the span of 18 months, Open Cities Africa mapped over 1,000,000 geographic features, 30,000 km of roads, and developed over 150 geospatial data layers. Teams attended three Regional Training Workshops and were trained on over 15 learning modules. Through the process over 500 young adults were trained in digital skills, 200 stakeholder groups were engaged, and over 1000 people gained an improved understanding of local resilience challenges.