Image: Kampala is 1 of 5 participating cities in the Multi City Challenge Africa

 

When faced with a challenge of any scale, from the individual all the way to the global, one can rest assured that they are likely not alone in their experience. Rather, we can assume with near certainty that the challenges we face have in some way, shape or form been faced by others. When embarking on a new challenge, we can find comfort in knowing that there will be others who are willing to share the journey with us.

Acknowledging this with conviction, the UNDP Uganda Accelerator Lab team have partnered with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to represent Kampala as one of five participating cities in the Multi City Challenge Africa.

Alongside our counterparts from Accra (Ghana), Bahir Dar (Ethiopia), Kano (Nigeria) and Mutare (Zimbabwe), we are participating in a challenge whereby cities facing common problems pool expertise from residents to discover and implement innovative solutions. It is the collaborative nature of this initiative that we as a team are most excited about, and that we feel will be the catalyst for its success.

Image: Accelerator Lab colleagues and city officials participating in consultation sessions.

 

Devised by the UNDP Global Centre for Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Development, and the Governance Lab (GovLab) at New York University Tandon School of Engineering, the Multi City Challenge Africa is taking aim at three challenges that are common to the five participating cities:

1)      Integrating the informal economy.

2)      Building urban resilience in slums and informal settlements.

3)      Reducing waste generation and improving waste management.

The two challenges in focus for Kampala are 1) Integrating the informal economy, and 2) Building urban resilience in slums and informal settlements. The former seeks to improve working environments for informal businesses, provide financial services to the informal sector, and achieve more sustainable and equitable economic development. The latter seeks to address Kampala’s rapid urbanization and mitigate risk factors associated with natural disasters.

What’s more, the collaborative nature of the Multi City Challenge Africa doesn’t end with the five participating cities and city officials. The major drawcard of this initiative is that we are harnessing the ingenuity of city residents to develop innovative solutions to these challenges. It is the residents of Kampala – as well as the residents of Accra, Bahir Dar, Kano and Mutare - who have the greatest influence in how this challenge materializes. 

Image: The initiative has taken a people-centred approach through each stage.

 

For the Accelerator Lab team, the early stages of problem definition - harnessing collective intelligence from different stakeholders in the room – proved to be a lightbulb moment. Not only did this experience give us a chance to highlight the core methodology of the Accelerator Lab, but it allowed city officials to reflect on the multitude of factors driving the challenges that our cities face.

Following extensive consultation and training sessions between UNDP, KCCA and other city officials, with a focus on leveraging new technology, data and the collective wisdom in our communities to better tackle public problems, the challenges have been set and the attention is now on city residents to share their innovative ideas. Following a public evaluation, also led by city residents, the winners of the Multi City Challenge Africa will be announced in January 2021.

The UNDP Uganda Accelerator Lab team have been engaging with the residents of Kampala, as well as stakeholders in the public sector, private sector and academic institutions, to drive the conversation on how we can collectively innovative to improve our city. We are really pleased with the volume and quality of proposals received so far, as well as the enthusiasm showed by residents, though ultimately we hope this initiative will serve to inspire ongoing investment in urban innovation for the city of Kampala with residents at the core.

Urban resilience, sustainable growth and development are dependent on the capacity of institutions, communities and individuals to adapt and innovative. With this in mind, we have every confidence that Kampala is in safe hands.

 

Learn more about the Multi City Challenge Africa at africa.multicitychallenge.org.

By Berna Mugema, Head of Experimentation; Deborah Naatujuna, Head of Exploration; and Hadijah Nabbale, Head of Solutions Mapping.

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