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Mombasa launches city lab to address urban flooding

The County Government of Mombasa, in partnership with the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA), has established a city lab to find solutions to the perennial flooding problem.

A study conducted last year by Coastal and Marine Resources Development (COMRED) identified urban water management as a high-priority concern for Mombasa.

Mombasa Deputy Governor Francis Thoya speaks during the launching of the city lab at the Elimu and Mazingira building in Mombasa. Photo by  Sadik Hassan

Support for CoM SSA is co-funded by the European Union and Germany and co-implemented by GIZ in Kenya.

City LABs are structured processes for bringing together different stakeholders, such as government, civil society, and academia, to co-produce and utilise knowledge to address complex urban issues.

Through the project, concrete solutions for the coastal city complex urban flooding climate adaptation challenge will be developed through a structured and participatory process involving the County, academia, civil society, the private sector, and local stakeholders.

The expected outcomes of the Lab are to identify the key causes of flooding, understand barriers to action, strengthen capacities and collaboration in the local ecosystem, and prepare a portfolio of solutions and projects that can be co-implemented.

The LAB concept believes in developing local solutions for local problems through a participatory and innovative approach. The LAB promotes the optimal use of local resources for sustainability while harnessing global and local knowledge.

Mombasa Deputy Governor Francis Thoya says there is a need for comprehensive and collaborative solutions to tackle the flooding challenge.

“The recent rains and subsequent flooding have reminded us of the urgency of the challenges we face, especially in the context of climate change,” said Thoya, adding that the City Lab will come up with long-term solutions.

The Deputy Governors noted that the county is grappling with encroachment into natural wetlands, a potential root cause of flooding. Developers building on river sources and wetlands were put on notice.

“In our pursuit of sustainable development, we are redefining building codes to ensure that our cityscape respects the delicate balance of our natural environment,” said the DG.

To address the haphazard disposal of garbage that contributes to drain blockages. The devolved government and county government are enforcing the Mombasa Waste Management Act.

The legislation, DG Thoya stated, holds each citizen accountable for their waste, in line with the county’s vision of a clean and sustainable city.

On her part, CECM for Water, Natural Resources, and Climate Change Resilience Emily Achieng said the lab is one of the interventions for flooding identified in the recently launched County Climate Action Plan.

“We want to come up with solutions either through the use of technology or borrowing from sister cities with similar flooding problems,” she said.

By Sadik Hassan

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