South Africa Durban (eThekwini)

eThekwini (Durban) Sihlanzimvelo Programme

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Durban Map_Project

eThekwini (Durban)

Leader Mayor Zandile Gumede

Durban, officially known as eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, is a regional and global leader in ensuring that both its natural and built infrastructure can withstand the effects of future climate change. The C40 Cities Finance Facility is assisting eThekwini (Durban) in this endeavour by supporting the Sihlanzimvelo Programme, which builds on the city's experience with ecosystem-based adaptation and its commitment to increase the resilience of eThekwini (Durban)'s most vulnerable communities.

Durban, officially known as eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, is a regional and global leader in ensuring that both its natural and built infrastructure can withstand the effects of future climate change. The C40 Cities Finance Facility is assisting eThekwini (Durban) in this endeavour by supporting the Sihlanzimvelo Programme, which builds on the city's experience with ecosystem-based adaptation and its commitment to increase the resilience of eThekwini (Durban)'s most vulnerable communities.

  • Project Scale Clearing and maintenance up to 3000km of watercourses and installation of flood defence measures
  • Estimated Project Costs USD $21.5 per year
  • Population 3.8 million (2015)
  • Total Reported GHG Emissions 28.2 MT CO2e per year

eThekwini (Durban)'s Sihlanzimvelo Programme will help the city cope with the increase in storms and heavy rainfall caused by climate change, significantly reducing the city’s vulnerability to extreme rainfall events, the severity of flooding and damages to municipal and residential infrastructure. The C40 Cities Finance Facility (CFF) is supporting eThekwini (Durban)'s Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department to develop a business case for this Programme that involves community-based management of thousands of kilometres of its watercourses. The project builds on a successful pilot initiative in two areas of the city.

Watercourses cleared in the pilot

285 km
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Watercourses to be cleared under the expanded Sihlanzimvelo programme

3,000 km
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eThekwini (Durban) places communities and the city’s most vulnerable at the heart of its work, and responding to climate change is no different. With the help of the C40 Cities Finance Facility, we hope to build the business case for the city to self-finance its climate change work, through the Sihlanzimvelo Programme.
Zandile Gumede
Zandile Gumede Mayor of Durban

Implemented via community co-operatives managing small stretches of streams, ensuring coverage of the whole network, the project creates employment opportunities for local communities that live around the city’s water courses. The removal of waste and invasive species from the watercourses will also provide multiple other benefits such as improved water quality, enhanced water security, better green spaces for communities, and a richer biodiversity through the restoration of the city’s indigenous vegetation.

The CFF’s technical assistance will focus on the development of a business model for the whole project, and will include assessments of the pilot to understand and model the economic and social benefits of scaling up the project. This work is expected to provide the rationale for shifting eThekwini (Durban)'s budget allocations towards financing flood preventive measures such as the Sihlanzimvelo Programme instead of reactive fixes and expensive clean-up operations. In addition, a private sector engagement strategy will be developed to support eThekwini (Durban) in attracting partners for the project.

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The Sihlanzimvelo programme will provide a scalable and replicable model for how cities across the world can manage and maintain their waterways while maximising socio-economic benefits.

The Sihlanzimvelo Programme is conceptualised around the idea that eThekwini (Durban)'s waterways provide ecosystem services analogous to that provided by built infrastructure, and should thus be maintained accordingly. In that sense, the programme develops the social and economic capital of the city. It changes the way the city looks at water, making water an economic asset. By providing for ecosystem-related job and asset creation for local communities, it enhances community ownership of environmental assets. Scaling up of the programme will change community lives, urban spaces, and reconnect people with water.