Urban Resilience to Climate Change Shocks and Stresses in Mbale Municipality in Uganda

Abstract: Climate change shocks and stresses are expected to increasingly affect urban areas in Sub-Sahara Africa (SSA). However, there remain gaps in understanding local precipitation extremes and influential factors that can enhance urban resilience. This study synthesized determinants of urban resilience, investigated historic and projected precipitation extremes up to the year 2050. Also assessed were factors perceived to enhance resilience. These factors informed the proposed Municipality Resilience Index (MRI) which was tested to assess the resilience index of Mbale municipality. The study employed cross sectional survey and some elements of grounded theory and fixed qualitative research designs. A compendium of methods was used to realize the formulated objectives. To synthesize determinants of urban resilience, a review of literature was undertaken and subjected to summative thematic content analysis. To investigate precipitation extremes, historic data for 32 years was obtained from Uganda National Meteorology Authority (UNMA) while for future climate, modelled data was used. Climate data was fitted in a Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) to compute precipitation extremes. To assess factors perceived to be influential in enhancing household resilience, 389 structured household interviews coupled with nine group interviews were undertaken. Household data was subjected to linear regression analysis to generate relationships while normalization, principle component analysis and summations were used to generate a resilience index. Group interview data was subjected to summative thematic content analysis to derive perceptions on priority resilience factors.Findings revealed that access to basic services, social networks, employment and ownership of productive assets were the most reported determinants of resilience in cities of SSA, with climate related shocks and stresses being the most eminent. SPI results revealed more extremely wet and dry periods in 2004-2014 as compared to 1982-1992 and 1993-2003 with extremely wet periods concentrated in September to January. Household perceptions supported this finding, emphasizing that dry periods have become frequent, hotter and longer, in addition to heavy precipitation periods. Modelled data indicated a likelihood of more extremely wet periods during 2021-2030 and 2031-2040 as compared to 2041-2050. Furthermore, future predictions generally predicted more extremely dry periods during 2031-2040 and 2041-2050 as compared to 2021-2030. These threaten to pause risks to the community of Mbale. Regression results showed that the ability of a household to meet its daily expenditure, household size and networks with relatives and NGOs had significant effects on resilience capacities. Most importantly, knowledge that even the lowest income households were substantially more likely to prepare for and recover from climate induced hazards if they are able to meet their daily expenditure needs was valuable particularly in this context, as the poorest population is generally most vulnerable. Summative thematic content analysis revealed that education, healthcare, employment, peace and security were perceived as the most crucial resilience factors. Although the community perceived to have progressed in accessing credit, building productive farms and sustaining peace and security, but they assessed a lack of diverse income generating activities, access to insurance, food security, employment and quality health care. Moreover, more marginalized parts of the municipality were experiencing decreasing resilience while other divisions have increased in resilience. The most crucial resilience factors informed the proposed multidimensional MRI that constituted of 46 variables explaining the physical, social, economic and institutional dimensions. When the MRI was tested, findings revealed that Mbale municipality has a low resilience index (0.2).The study concluded that future work needs to continue utilizing a multidimensional approach to understand location-specific determinants of household resilience in municipalities given their growing role in the strong urban growth trajectory projected over the next decades. Practitioners and disaster risk reduction policies need to promote: small household size, activities that can boost household ability to meet their daily expenditure needs and social networks that shape household resilience to enhance preparedness, recovery and adaptation. Additionally, policies need to continue focusing on: access to insurance, food security, creating more employment opportunities and provision of quality health care to enhance household resilience. Furthermore, Mbale municipality local government needs to redirect more resources to parts of the municipality with the least resilience index to enhance household resilience.