The Mo Ibrahim Foundation is to hold its flagship, high-level Annual Governance Weekend from the 21-23 November 2014 in Accra, Ghana. The focus of the weekend will be the Ibrahim Forum. The theme of the discussions will be “African Cities”.Projections estimate that Africa will enter its ‘urban age’ by 2035 when 50% of its population will live in urban areas. The 2014 Ibrahim Forum will explore innovation and solutions crucial to unlocking the potential of urban centres to act as engines of sustainable and equitable growth and development.In the build up to our Forum, MIF is inviting anyone interested in this issue to participate in the “Snapping Cities” photography competition. The “Snapping Cities” provides an opportunity for photographers and members of the public of all abilities and ages, to capture through their own lenses, urban life in Africa. We are seeking images that capture inspiring ways of tackling urban challenges in African cities. These may be of modern innovation or basic adaptation of day-to-day life.  The theme is open to personal interpretation but we’re looking for beautiful, inspiring and original photographs. A selection of the best photographs will be displayed at the 2014 Ibrahim Forum on African Cities in Accra, Ghana, in November where they will be seen by prominent African political and business leaders, representatives from civil society, multilateral and regional institutions as well as Africa’s major international partners. Prizes will be awarded for the top three entries: first prize of US$500, second prize of US$200 and third prize of US$100.The deadline for all submission is 5pm on 10 October 2014.For more information click here

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation is to hold its flagship, high-level Annual Governance Weekend from the 21-23 November 2014 in Accra, Ghana. The focus of the weekend will be the Ibrahim Forum. The theme of the discussions will be “African Cities”.

Projections estimate that Africa will enter its ‘urban age’ by 2035 when 50% of its population will live in urban areas. The 2014 Ibrahim Forum will explore innovation and solutions crucial to unlocking the potential of urban centres to act as engines of sustainable and equitable growth and development.

In the build up to our Forum, MIF is inviting anyone interested in this issue to participate in the “Snapping Cities” photography competition. The “Snapping Cities” provides an opportunity for photographers and members of the public of all abilities and ages, to capture through their own lenses, urban life in Africa. We are seeking images that capture inspiring ways of tackling urban challenges in African cities. These may be of modern innovation or basic adaptation of day-to-day life.  The theme is open to personal interpretation but we’re looking for beautiful, inspiring and original photographs. 

A selection of the best photographs will be displayed at the 2014 Ibrahim Forum on African Cities in Accra, Ghana, in November where they will be seen by prominent African political and business leaders, representatives from civil society, multilateral and regional institutions as well as Africa’s major international partners. 

Prizes will be awarded for the top three entries: first prize of US$500, second prize of US$200 and third prize of US$100.

The deadline for all submission is 5pm on 10 October 2014.

For more information click here

http://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=nk_-hm7nMo4&u=/watch?v=RR5ykMyoAJw&feature=share

International Medical Corps has launched the Building a Better Response e-learning course on the international humanitarian coordination system.

The e-learning can be accessed at: www.BuildingABetterResponse.org.

The e-learning course aims to build the knowledge of NGO workers and other humanitarian actors in the international coordination system for large-scale emergencies, humanitarian leadership, basics of humanitarian funding and planning, and other areas of importance to humanitarian response.

The Building a Better Response e-learning course consists of five units:

• Foundations of Humanitarian Action
• The International Humanitarian Architecture
• The Cluster Approach
• Planning and Funding the Humanitarian Response
• International Law and Humanitarian Standards

Those who complete all five units will receive a certificate from the Humanitarian Academy at Harvard.

The Building a Better Response project is funded by the US Agency for International Development, Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, and is implemented through a consortium of International Medical Corps, Concern Worldwide, and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

Top photo: Traders ply their wares in the shadow of newly constructed, gated apartment blocks in Luanda, Angola. Photograph: Joerg Boethling/Alamy

Bottom photo: Early evening in Aria City, a gated community residential complex in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photograph: Joel van Houdt for the Guardian

From a collection of photos published on The Guardian: ‘For your protection’: gated cities around the world – in pictures

From Buenos Aires to Beersheba, Kiev to Kabul, gated communities are springing up in unprecedented numbers across the globe to keep cities’ wealthier residents apart from the rest

All photographs by Henrik Spohler. From top to bottom:

1. Cultivation of young lettuce plants in south Germany

2. Greenhouse cultivation of tomatoes, the Netherlands

3. Preparing the soil near Santa Maria, California

The New Yorker: “The German photographer Henrik Spohler, in his new book, “The Third Day,” offers a compelling yet daunting look at industrialized agriculture. Beginning in 2010, Spohler visited agricultural facilities, including industrial greenhouses and research factories, across the United States and Europe, taking photographs in which the starkly sterile facilities appear to encompass an infinite amount of space. The greenhouses, Spohler says, “feel like being in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ reloaded.” “The Third Day” is available for purchase through Hatje Cantz Publishing.”

Join National Geographic in Washington, D.C., on the weekend of May 3‑4, 2014, as they explore unique data sets about food production and distribution. They are looking for data storytellers and civic hackers to develop apps and create visualizations to address the important challenges of feeding 9 billion people by 2050. They will supply the food, the food data, and the WiFi. You bring the ideas, and energy. Follow along on Twitter at #FutureOfFood.

Join National Geographic in Washington, D.C., on the weekend of May 3‑4, 2014, as they explore unique data sets about food production and distribution. They are looking for data storytellers and civic hackers to develop apps and create visualizations to address the important challenges of feeding 9 billion people by 2050. They will supply the food, the food data, and the WiFi. You bring the ideas, and energy. Follow along on Twitter at #FutureOfFood.

El Fasher, Darfur: Food insecurity in a rapidly urbanizing environment.
In the last 20 years, the population in Darfur has grown dramatically from 1.3 million people in 1973 to an estimated 7.5 million people in 2008.[i] Darfur has become increasingly urban, with around fifty per cent of the population now living in and around major cities or along the axes that link them.[ii] Since 2003, this rapid urbanization process has taken place in a context of large-scale conflict-induced population displacements, with the result that one-third of the population in Darfur are now internally displaced persons (IDPs). The conflict has been accompanied by targeted and systematic destruction of livelihood assets and strategies, which has altered and transformed the traditionally rural Darfuri society, and placed great stress on its fast-growing cities.

In Al Fashir, the capital city of Darfur, a historical caravan post and now a humanitarian boomtown,[iii] the population  has doubled in size. In the periphery of the city there are now three main IDP camps: Abu Shouk, Al Salam, and Zamzam. The construction boom has required large quantities of firewood to produce bricks, leading to an unsustainable rate of deforestation. The growing population concentration has strained the water supply, with the water table around Al Fashir estimated to have dropped by 10 meters since 2007.[iv]  Security concerns have resulted in over-grazing and over-cultivation around the city, degrading the quality and productivity of the land.  This rapid urbanization has dramatically increased local demand on natural resources and food, caused considerable environmental damage to a fragile ecosystem, and aggravated a stressed food insecurity situation.[v]

The food supply and market infrastructure have been further damaged by poor governance and by the vicissitudes of the ongoing conflict. With decreasing job opportunities in the city, the depletion and mismanagement of natural resources on which many livelihoods depend has left many urban households with unreliable incomes, decreased purchasing power, and thus insecure access to food. Urban agriculture remains a limited alternative.

 The food security situation in Al Fashir, as in many other Darfuri cities, is precarious. In the absence of any clear sense of how the crisis will evolve in the near future, and as the possibility of return slowly dwindles, the complexity and urgency of finding sustainable solutions for Darfur’s cities has never been greater. 


[i] Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator -RCSO. (2010). Beyond Emergency Relief, p. 14, quoting the Sudan Central Bureau of Statistics, Fifth Population and Housing Census (2008)


[ii] RCSO. (2010). Beyond Emergency Relief, p.4


[iii] Sanders, Edmund. “Town thrives thanks to crisis in Darfur.” Los Angeles Times, 30 April 2008.


[iv] RCSO. (2010). Beyond Emergency Relief, p. 13 quoting United Nations, 2010 UN and Partners Work Plan for Sudan (2010 Work Plan) - 2009


[v] FEWS NET, Sudan Food Security Outlook Update. February 2013. http://www.fews.net/docs/Publications/Sudan_FSOU_2013_02_final.pdf

El Fasher, Darfur: Food insecurity in a rapidly urbanizing environment.

In the last 20 years, the population in Darfur has grown dramatically from 1.3 million people in 1973 to an estimated 7.5 million people in 2008.[i] Darfur has become increasingly urban, with around fifty per cent of the population now living in and around major cities or along the axes that link them.[ii] Since 2003, this rapid urbanization process has taken place in a context of large-scale conflict-induced population displacements, with the result that one-third of the population in Darfur are now internally displaced persons (IDPs). The conflict has been accompanied by targeted and systematic destruction of livelihood assets and strategies, which has altered and transformed the traditionally rural Darfuri society, and placed great stress on its fast-growing cities.

In Al Fashir, the capital city of Darfur, a historical caravan post and now a humanitarian boomtown,[iii] the population  has doubled in size. In the periphery of the city there are now three main IDP camps: Abu Shouk, Al Salam, and Zamzam. The construction boom has required large quantities of firewood to produce bricks, leading to an unsustainable rate of deforestation. The growing population concentration has strained the water supply, with the water table around Al Fashir estimated to have dropped by 10 meters since 2007.[iv]  Security concerns have resulted in over-grazing and over-cultivation around the city, degrading the quality and productivity of the land.  This rapid urbanization has dramatically increased local demand on natural resources and food, caused considerable environmental damage to a fragile ecosystem, and aggravated a stressed food insecurity situation.[v]

The food supply and market infrastructure have been further damaged by poor governance and by the vicissitudes of the ongoing conflict. With decreasing job opportunities in the city, the depletion and mismanagement of natural resources on which many livelihoods depend has left many urban households with unreliable incomes, decreased purchasing power, and thus insecure access to food. Urban agriculture remains a limited alternative.

 The food security situation in Al Fashir, as in many other Darfuri cities, is precarious. In the absence of any clear sense of how the crisis will evolve in the near future, and as the possibility of return slowly dwindles, the complexity and urgency of finding sustainable solutions for Darfur’s cities has never been greater.



[i] Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator -RCSO. (2010). Beyond Emergency Relief, p. 14, quoting the Sudan Central Bureau of Statistics, Fifth Population and Housing Census (2008)

[ii] RCSO. (2010). Beyond Emergency Relief, p.4

[iii] Sanders, Edmund. “Town thrives thanks to crisis in Darfur.” Los Angeles Times, 30 April 2008.

[iv] RCSO. (2010). Beyond Emergency Relief, p. 13 quoting United Nations, 2010 UN and Partners Work Plan for Sudan (2010 Work Plan) - 2009

[v] FEWS NET, Sudan Food Security Outlook Update. February 2013. http://www.fews.net/docs/Publications/Sudan_FSOU_2013_02_final.pdf

"FAO launched at the World Urban Forum in Medellín, a new report on urban and peri-urban agriculture in the Latin America and Caribbean region. The report, entitled "Growing Greener Cities in Latin America and the Caribbean", reviews the progress that has been made toward realizing "greener cities" in which urban and peri-urban agriculture is recognized by public policy, included in urban development strategies, supported by agricultural research and extension, and linked to sources of training, technological innovation, investment and credit, and to urban markets and consumers.

The report is available in English and Spanish. It is based on an FAO survey of UPA in 110 of the region’s towns, municipalities and cities. It includes in-depth profiles of agriculture as it is practised today in and around Havana, Mexico City, Antigua and Barbuda, Tegucigalpa, Managua, Quito, Lima, El Alto (Bolivia), Belo Horizonte (Brazil) and Rosario (Argentina).”

You can read the publication online, or download the PDF, here:
www.fao.org/ag/agp/greenercities/

The cafe that feeds Leeds with waste – video

Inspiring story of using food waste in the city of Leeds.

Chef Adam Smith serves up food deemed past its best. His Pay As You Feel Cafe in Leeds offers delicious meals made from ingredients discarded by the city’s various food establishments. It might be steak, soup – or just a cup of tea. Not only does it save perfectly good food from ending up in landfill, this inspiring little cafe (temporarily closed for refurbishment but opening again soon) is also helping to feed locals in need: facebook.com/PAYFcafe

Shigeru Ban wins the Pritzker Prize, NYT writes all about it:

Architecture generally involves creating monuments to permanence from substantial materials like steel and concrete. Yet this year, the discipline’s top award is going to a man who is best known for making temporary housing out of transient materials like paper tubes and plastic beer crates.

On Monday, the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban was named the winner of this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize, largely because of his work designing shelters after natural disasters in places like Rwanda, Turkey, India, China, Haiti and Japan.

“His buildings provide shelter, community centers and spiritual places for those who have suffered tremendous loss and destruction,” the jury said in its citation. “When tragedy strikes, he is often there from the beginning.”

(….)

Yet, in a way, Mr. Ban also represents a kind of anti-architecture, a rejection of the aura of celebrity status pursued by many in the profession. In public remarks this month, for example, Mr. Ban took architects to task for not putting their expertise to work for a greater social good.

“I’m not saying I’m against building monuments, but I’m thinking we can work more for the public,” he said in London at Ecobuild, an annual conference on sustainable design. “Architects are not building temporary housing because we are too busy building for the privileged people.”

Africa Food Map, by Hargreaves and Levin

Africa Food Map, by Hargreaves and Levin

The Guardian Cities Section

The Guardian Cities website is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation. The site offers a forum for debate and the sharing of ideas about the future of cities across the world. All content is editorially independent

The Royal Society of Arts (RSA) produces great short videos on a wide variety of issues, and has just produced “How Cooking Can Change Your Life”, a short animated film based on an audio clip of a longer talk Michael Pollan gave at RSA in London, in May 2013.

Without direct assistance, Yehia predicts that most of these 15,000 small-holding farmers would be forced to depart Al Hasakah Province to seek work in larger cities in western Syria. Approximately 100,000 dependents — women, children and the elderly or infirm — would be left behind to live in poverty, he said. Children would be likely to be pulled from school, he warned, in order to seek a source of income for families left behind. In addition, the migration of 15,000 unskilled laborers would add to the social and economic pressures presently at play in major Syrian cities. A system already burdened by a large Iraqi refugee population may not be able to absorb another influx of displaced persons, Yehia explained, particularly at this time of rising costs, growing dissatisfaction of the middle class, and a perceived weakening of the social fabric and security structures that Syrians have come to expect and — in some cases — rely on.
Interesting Op-ed by Thomas Friedman “Wikileaks, Drought and Syria”, using a leaked document to show the link between drought and migration to the cities in Al Hasakah Province. As Friendman detils, "a WikiLeaks cable that brilliantly foreshadowed how environmental stresses would fuel the uprising. Sent on Nov. 8, 2008, from the U.S. Embassy in Damascus to the State Department, the cable details how, in light of what was a devastating Syrian drought — it lasted from 2006-10 — Syria’s U.N. food and agriculture representative, Abdullah bin Yehia, was seeking drought assistance from the U.N. and wanted the U.S. to contribute."

Can disasters become an opportunity? Building back better in Aceh, Myanmar and Haiti

28 January 2014, ODI talk on “build back better”:

"In 2004 the Indian Ocean tsunami devastated the lives of millions of people across 14 countries. The response took on the responsibility not only to save lives or even restore livelihoods, but to leave disaster struck communities safer and stronger than before the disaster. This goal became known as ‘build back better’; a slogan frequently heard again throughout responses to Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008 and the Haiti earthquake of 2010. Nine years later the ideal remains: the language of ‘building back better’ and ‘bouncing back better from crises’ is now common in the call for emergency agencies to take responsibility for incorporating ‘resilience building’ in their response.

But what exactly should  ‘better’ look like? Better for whom, where, how? Is there anything in common in what those who speak of building back better mean - can it even be called an approach at all? Is it right to invest in building back better if it distracts attention and money away from the urgent and often overwhelming need to feed, treat and shelter people who have nothing but the clothes they stand up in? Questions that can be applied to the Philippines response, as the country recovers from Typhoon Haiyan.

What can today’s discussions on resilience building learn from the past decade’s experience of trying to use disasters as an opportunity for bringing about transformative change?  Join us for the launch event of the Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG)’s ‘Disaster as Opportunity? Building Back Better in Aceh, Myanmar and Haiti’, a paper that seeks to contribute to the resilience debate through an examination of what ‘build back better’ meant in three disaster responses, the Indian Ocean tsunami in Aceh, Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar and the earthquake in Haiti.”

​Speakers

Lilianne Fan - Research Fellow, Humanitarian Policy Group

Jo da Silva - Director, Arup International Development

Priscilla M. Phelps - Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction Advisor, Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery

Simon Levine - Research Fellow, Humanitarian Policy Group

A conference to check out:
"Urban disasters are on the increase, with rapid urbanization causing more people to live in places vulnerable to hazards such as flood, earthquake and tsunami. This conference invites humanitarian aid practitioners, those in government and designers from spatial/physical disciplines to explore ways to improve actions before and after disaster. The conference addresses three key themes: response, resilience, and transformation.
Who should attend?
This conference invites humanitarian aid practitioners, those in government, academics and designers from spatial/physical disciplines to explore ways to improve urban humanitarian action before and after disaster:

Humanitarian aid practitioners includes those from national and international non-governmental organizations, donors, the military, United Nations agencies and representatives from the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies


Those in government means elected and non-elected officials from towns and cities affected by disaster


Academics includes researchers engaged in disasters and/or urban issues


Designers from spatial/physical disciplines includes (but is not limited to) planners, engineers, architects, landscape architects and crisis mappers, drawn from the private sector and not-for-profits.

The fee for the conference is $75. Closing date for registration is March 31, 2014. Places are limited.
Sponsored by: Harvard University Graduate School of Design (Department of Urban Planning and Design); Oxford Brookes University School of Architecture; Harvard University South Asia Institute; Habitat for Humanity; International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; Harvard Humanitarian Initiative”

A conference to check out:

"Urban disasters are on the increase, with rapid urbanization causing more people to live in places vulnerable to hazards such as flood, earthquake and tsunami. This conference invites humanitarian aid practitioners, those in government and designers from spatial/physical disciplines to explore ways to improve actions before and after disaster. The conference addresses three key themes: response, resilience, and transformation.

Who should attend?

This conference invites humanitarian aid practitioners, those in government, academics and designers from spatial/physical disciplines to explore ways to improve urban humanitarian action before and after disaster:

  • Humanitarian aid practitioners includes those from national and international non-governmental organizations, donors, the military, United Nations agencies and representatives from the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

  • Those in government means elected and non-elected officials from towns and cities affected by disaster

  • Academics includes researchers engaged in disasters and/or urban issues

  • Designers from spatial/physical disciplines includes (but is not limited to) planners, engineers, architects, landscape architects and crisis mappers, drawn from the private sector and not-for-profits.

The fee for the conference is $75. Closing date for registration is March 31, 2014. Places are limited.

Sponsored by: Harvard University Graduate School of Design (Department of Urban Planning and Design); Oxford Brookes University School of Architecture; Harvard University South Asia Institute; Habitat for Humanity; International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; Harvard Humanitarian Initiative”

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