University of Cocody, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire


R&D-Cooperation Project: CleanIvorianWater

Africa, Côte d´Ivoire and Abidjan as pilot city of the proposal Copyright: Cooperation Project: CleanIvorianWater Africa, Côte d´Ivoire and Abidjan as pilot city of the proposal

Objectives, excellence and originality of the project

African cities are more threatened by natural and anthropogenic hazards (floods, droughts, waterborne diseases) than other cities worldwide due to ethnic, social, economic, ecological, natural and other factors which are boosted by an enormous increase of population and climate change. Therefore, disaster management of African cities is an enormous challenge for our generation to ensure safety, health, income and welfare of the local population. In this context, clean and safe water is a key issue to ensure prosperity of people.

A multidisciplinary approach is required to identify weak points in integrated water resources management as a prerequisite for disaster management. Weak points are related to river floods, flash floods and coastal flooding, sanitary engineering and water supply, development and control of waterborne diseases. These aspects can’t be regarded as independent of each other but require an integrated approach from engineering, natural sciences and human sciences point of view. Cascading effects such as the influence of missing water treatment plants and floods on outbreaks of waterborne diseases impair the situation and may finally result in poverty, unrest and civil wars.

Accessibility and availability of clean drinking water in different social groups in growing cities is of importance to the development of healthy cities. In the proposed project health awareness as leading element for planning and regulation of urbanization processes taking water cycles as an example will be examined in the developing Ivorian city Abidjan with their different water supplies. Key questions are the possible influence of the different categories of water supply and different household registrations on people’s health, the dependence of education on health status and selection of clean/healthy water as well as the influence of health consciousness on the interaction with the environment. The citizens’ estimation of health, environment and education will be assessed.

Available data about health status and quality of water will be examined concerning their explanatory power for a valid risk assessment and risk evaluation of the impact of water on human health. In this context valuable indicators will be detected or implemented if necessary. In case of health status, data of the organization of health care, the real health care situation and the importance of the informal sector will be assessed. Health care investments will be considered, too. Concerning the water quality status catchment wide water cycles, water processing, water management, prevention of water pollution, and waste water management will be investigated. Organization of water supply, the real situation of water supply, and importance of the informal sector will be taken into account. Moreover, the development, the complexity, and the dynamics in river catchments will be studied; e.g., land use change: natural vegetation cover, agriculture, and built-up areas.

Starting from the relationship between environmental awareness and environmental behaviour in international surveys, it shall be analysed how the environmental behaviour with respect to water (as a concrete example) and health issues can be influenced by education related to different social groups on one hand and decision relevant actors on the other.

The results of these investigations will improve the knowledge and general understanding of complex social and natural issues as well as enable the Ivorian side to develop and implement an education program of health and environmental awareness as well as the necessary success control. The whole project will result in a health and environmental awareness and education model including success control which can be implemented in other parts of Côte d´Ivoire.

The development of sustainable disaster management plans for African cities requires first of all crowd data sampling of local, remote sensing and other data to develop a geographic information system as a database for a SWAT analysis (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). Data availability is a significant problem in African countries but a requirement for any good planning. In this context, SWAT analysis is mainly based on numerical models to simulate different scenarios related to flooding, water quality and disease spreading, to identify weak points in the system, to observe cascading effects (e.g. disease spreading after floods), to elaborate adequate disaster mitigation plans and to transfer research results to people.

Pilot city for a sustainable disaster management plan is the largest city of Côte d´Ivoire, Abidjan with more than 4.4 million inhabitants. The city of Abidjan is situated at the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding the lagoon Ebrié. Due to this geographic situation Abidjan is threatened by high water levels and waves from the Atlantic ocean, coastal erosion, decreasing water quality in the lagoon and flash floods due to tropic storms. A coastal management plan as well as a flash flood management plan including protection measures are not available. In contrast, unauthorized urbanization reduces the resilience of the city against flash floods, coastal erosion, disease spreading, etc.

In addition, wastewater treatment plants and water treatment plants are missing. Therefore, people suffer from waterborne diseases such as malaria, cholera, typhus, tuberculosis, yellow fever, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and others. The water supply system is scruffy and the health system underdeveloped.

Finally, the city is threatened by medium and long term trends such as growth of population and climate change which intensify the aforementioned situation. Therefore, Abidjan can be regarded as typical example for African countries and an excellent place to develop a disaster management strategy for climate resilient cities.

The development of a disaster management plan requires a two-step approach. Step 1 includes research to develop a disaster management plan including crowd data sampling, set-up of a GIS, numerical modelling of hydrological, hydraulic, water quality and disease spreading as well as an elaboration of a decision support system. Step 2 is related to capacity building of institutions and stakeholders via post graduate training and courses by using blended learning and distance learning concepts.

The present project proposal is the first German project of such size in the French speaking world with Ivorian partners. Projects of NGO’s and GIZ are not comparable, because they are realized outside Abidjan and aim at people not having the same multiplicator function as universities. Côte d´Ivoire has traditionally good relations to Germany. Education in German language has a long tradition. It was introduced during the French colonial period by teachers from the Alsace region. In tight cooperation with the local Goethe-Institute, which has a regional function for West Africa, as well as with the German Embassy, the present project proposal should be established as mediator to the widely spread network of teachers for German language. The German Embassy is interested in more engagements and investments of the German industry. English as communication language is scarcely known in the French speaking West Africa. Numerous projects of German-Ivorian cooperation failed due to insufficient knowledge of language and cultural behaviour. Therefore we recommend to report about the present project and its results in German language and especially at the PASCH schools (e.g. in lectures for advanced studies). Such lectures serve also as advertisement for a future cooperation with Germany. Possibly also additional partnerships between municipalities, schools and universities can be arranged.




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