Johannesburg one of 3 cities to benefit from Suncasa project tackling climate threats

28th May 2024 By: Tasneem Bulbulia - Senior Contributing Editor Online

Johannesburg one of 3 cities to benefit from Suncasa project tackling climate threats

Scaling Urban Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Adaptation in Sub-Saharan Africa (Suncasa), a new three-year project, will undertake watershed restoration and adaptation actions in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia; Kigali, Rwanda; and Johannesburg, South Africa.

It is expected to reduce climate-fuelled flood risks and enhance the resilience of people in these three sub-Saharan African cities, while promoting gender equality and social inclusion and strengthening biodiversity protection.

Jointly managed by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) – and guided and implemented by an array of local partners, policymakers and stakeholders – Suncasa is expected to visit 2.2-million people in high-flood-risk areas, while indirectly benefiting an estimated seven-million residents in the three cities.

The project is funded by Global Affairs Canada through the Partnering for Climate Programme.

About C$29-million will be invested in the three cities until 2026.

Specific actions were identified through multiple rounds of engagement with key stakeholders in each of the three cities.

Through the City Water Resilience Approach, stakeholders worked collaboratively to develop high-impact solutions to critical resilience challenges.

These include, in Johannesburg, the removal of alien invasive species, afforestation, reforestation, and riverbank restoration in the city’s Jukskei river catchment to reduce flood risk and increase water quality.

Invasive species in wetlands and river systems are indicated to threaten the water security of the City of Johannesburg, increasing flood risk and impacting biodiversity.

The Suncasa project will work with local communities along the Jukskei river catchment to remove alien invasive species clogging waterways, aimed at helping to reduce flood risk by rehabilitating riverbanks.

The project will directly support 14 local cooperatives, expand employment opportunities, and ensure women and youth leadership in ecosystem conservation.

“Flood protection is a critical aspect of the City of Johannesburg’s Water Security Strategy. Exacerbated by climate change and urbanisation, flooding poses a significant risk to lives, livelihoods, and infrastructure, causing devastation and disruption on a massive scale,” says Johannesburg executive mayor Kabelo Gwamanda.

“Through the protection and restoration of ecosystems, we can address flood risk across the City while enhancing water quality, preserving critical habitats, and safeguarding ecological integrity for generations to come. This is where the Suncasa project comes into play, as it will implement the nature-based solutions outlined in our strategy,” he adds.