Resurgence unveils DARAJA: Africa’s boldest urban early warning initiative

By Resurgence | June 2, 2023

Race to Resilience partner, Resurgence today announced the launch of the DARAJA  East Africa Scale Up Programme, spanning cities in the East and Greater Horn of Africa, creating Africa’s most ambitious and inclusive urban early warning initiative.

The regional scale up of DARAJA will support Nairobi-based ICPAC, the regional climate centre of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), six of its national meteorological service partners and community based partners, to improve the access, uptake of weather forecasts and early warnings for vulnerable urban communities in cities in six target countries including Kampala.

DARAJA, which means ‘bridge’ in Swahili, is a service and partnership that aims to improve weather and climate information services (WCIS), including early warnings of extreme weather, for urban users, with a particular focus on vulnerable communities based in informal settlements.

The East Africa DARAJA Scale Up Programme has been developed and financed through a new partnership with UKaid from the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), managed by the Met Office, the UK’s National Meteorological Service, within the Weather and Climate Information Services (WISER) Africa programme.

John Mungai, Regional East Africa Advisor for the Met Office said: ‘DARAJA is built on the twin pillars of the co-production principles of WISER and the climate and forecasting science of the National Met Services in EA supported by the UK Met Office. DARAJA is building resilience of people living in cities to climate impacts and that is why the Met Office Team is pleased to be supporting the DARAJA East Africa Scale Up Programme through FCDO funding and its in-house Technical Assistance Partnership (TAP).’

The DARAJA service was originally piloted through WISER Africa programme support in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam from 2018-2020, reaching 982,000 residents and achieving strong results in terms of enabling communities to take action in advance on the provision of  early warnings. The communities, therefore, undertook early responses such as repairing their homes and roofs, moving possessions to a safe place and cleaning household and community drains.

Michael Ayebazibwe, Executive Director, ACTogether Uganda, DARAJA community partner for Kampala said: ‘Our communities across the informal settlements of Kampala stand to benefit significantly from this new partnership that draws inspiration from the success of DARAJA in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. They are  more than ready to become active agents in the co-design of the forecasting, early warning system that we will co-create under DARAJA over the next two years.’

Kampala, in common with the other cities that will  participate in the East Africa DARAJA Scale Up Programme, will benefit from a new partnership on extreme heat forecasting and risk reduction with ICPAC and the Arsht Rockefeller Foundation Center for Resilience.

Dr. Isaac Mugume, Director Forecasting Services, Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) said: ‘As Kampala’s weather fluctuates punctuated by extreme weather events, including heatwaves and heavy rains, which have become more frequent and impactful on our capital city, UNMA forecasters are ready to work with the new partners in the city and the region to scale up the DARAJA initiative. This will provide the best possible forecasting and early warning service to our capital’s residents – including, critically, its most vulnerable – and the service providers around them.’

The DARAJA East Africa Scale Up Programme is also being designed as the first scalable demonstrator in the urban space for the UN Early Warnings for All Initiative, which has designated Uganda as one of the initial target countries of the UN Initiative.

The Scale Up Programme will be implemented in ways that reinforce, where possible, the investments of other key Hydromet and early warning initiatives in the region, notably the Greater Horn of Africa and East Africa Programmes of Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems Initiative (CREWS), currently chaired by the UK FCDO.

The DARAJA East Africa Scale Up Programme  will also provide impact data to contribute to the global targets of  the UNFCCC Race to Resilience and the Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP).

The target countries and cities of the DARAJA East Africa Scale Up Programme are: Uganda (Kampala),  Ethiopia (Addis Ababa), Kenya (Nairobi), Tanzania (Dar es Salaam), Sudan (Khartoum), Rwanda (Kigali).

Please note: Khartoum in Sudan is urgently being redesigned by Resurgence, ICPAC and Sudanese community partner SUDTT as a remotely delivered weather and early warning service for Sudanese Communities and Humanitarian Responders across Sudan, in the light of current events.

Kigali is subject to future financing for the DARAJA Service in Rwanda becoming available.

About DARAJA

To date, DARAJA has been implemented in two cities, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam reaching 982,000 residents. Analysis of baseline and endline data has confirmed significant improvements in terms of access, understanding and use of WCIS by the residents and the people and organisations that support them. In Nairobi, the number of residents able to access actionable WCIS increased from 56% to 93%, reaching a minimum of 800,000 residents, as a direct result of the DARAJA initiative. 98% of the residents state that they use DARAJA information services to prepare for extreme weather through actions that avoid damage and loss such as repairing their homes/ roofs (+300% on baseline) moving possessions to a safe place (+166%), cleaning household (+110%) and community (+68%) drains. Similar results have been achieved in Dar es Salaam.

DARAJA is one of ten global transformation initiatives of the UNFCCC Race to Resilience , the winner of two international awards, and a learning initiative of Risk-informed Early Action Partnership of which Resurgence co-chairs with BBC Media Action the Risk Communication Working Group.

 

 

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