Helping cities become more resilient to challenges

Gareth Morgan.

The City of Cape Town’s resilience department has released its Preliminary Resilience Assessment for Cape Town, and valuable lessons have been learnt from Hout Bay.

The document, produced as part of a collaboration with 100 Resilient Cities, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, concludes phase 1 of the journey to developing the City’s first resilience strategy.

In 2013, with the growing effects of urbanisation, the Rockefeller Foundation decided to focus on helping cities of the world become more resilient to physical, social and economic challenges.

The initiative supports the adoption and incorporation of a view of resilience that includes not just the shocks – earthquakes, fires or floods, for example – but also the stresses that weaken the fabric of a city over time.

In February, Cape Town directors of the 100 Resilient Cities initiative visited Hout Bay, where they undertook a community conversation.

Their visit formed part of the first phase of the journey to developing the City’s first Resilience Strategy.

The report states: “The participants from Hout Bay perceived the enabling economic environment of the community to be in need of improvement. In relation to long-term planning, the main issues raised related to land-use planning and building standards and codes, and their enforcement or lack thereof.

“The ‘Ensures social stability, security and justice’ driver (aspect) is worth noting. Some participants perceived this to be very weak, because crime is an ongoing challenge in Hout Bay, while others rated this as an area of strength because the community of Hout Bay is very active in fighting and deterring crime through active citizen participation in community organisations such as the local neighbourhood watch.”

While the authors – Craig Kesson, Gareth Morgan and Cayley Green, acknowledged that Hout Bay comprised a much smaller group than those in other parts of Cape Town, they provided a valuable snapshot of specific communities in the city.

Together with the Greater Muizenberg area, Hout Bay can be seen as a microcosm for the city – “each community contains a broad range of economic, social and cultural groupings”.

In both these communities, the weakest area was the driver
“Empowers a broad range of stakeholders”. As such, this has been captured as an area for further investigation of Phase 2.

The authors intend presenting the resilience strategy to the City council towards the end of the year.

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said: “Most people acknowledge that Hout Bay is a microcosm of South Africa, and as such the value of this study lies in not only having data accumulated that can be applied to resilience planning for our Bay, but Cape Town in general.

“Economic enablement is key, and local government needs to be geared toward finding ways to further improve the space for business to thrive and employment and entrepreneurship to pros-
per.”

However, he said this was only possible with the participation and partnership of communities and residents.

“My ongoing belief is that a stable, safe and clean Hout Bay, made possible by City and community co-operation, would go a long way to solving many of the issues that we face, such as crime and unemployment. I look forward to seeing how this study is applied and informs our policies going forward.”