"Urban resilience is an emerging topic both globally and regionally, yet limited work has been done on the subject in Zimbabwe", says Professor Chirisa, University of Zimbabwe, Acting Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences. There is currently a gap in the availability of evidence-based knowledge which is key in informing interventions which will help communities withstand the shocks and stressors they face.
Universities are important institutions in the processes of social change and development. They play an important role as leaders in research, which is necessary in finding solutions to the threats that communities face. In line with this , the University of Zimbabwe's Department of Rural and Urban planning has collaborated with the United Nations Development (UNDP) in the development of the Journal of Urban Systems and Innovations for Resilience in Zimbabwe.
A call for submissions of abstracts on how to best promote urban resilience was issued in June 2019 and 17 papers were submitted by Zimbabwean academics. According to Professor Chirisa, a prominent theme in several papers was the country's growing informal economy,
"Our urban areas are increasingly becoming informal because of unemployment and related challenges. Another secondary economy has emerged, which is the informal economy"
By placing communities at the heart of the research, the inaugural urban resilience journal is providing key data which is needed to develop programmes which will help residents withstand the shocks from economic and natural disasters in the long term. Professor Chirisa also noted the need for data to be collated and interpreted in a way that produces the best solutions,
“As the concentration of people in cities and towns increases several issues are surfacing: issues of housing, transport, water and sanitation hygiene. We need to collate the information in a way that shows how the urban citizenry can best cope with the challenges associated with the urban centres."
The Journal of Urban Systems and Innovations for Resilience in Zimbabwe will be a bi-annual publication providing information on how urban resilience can be sustained into the future. Its first issue is available at the University of Zimbabwe and will be made available online.
The Journal of Urban Systems and Innovations for Resilience in Zimbabwe has been launched as part of the Urban Resilience Programme being implemented by UNDP, UNICEF and the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.