African Urban Risk Analysis Network (AURAN)


In December 2008 Earthscan published a book of case studies from the first phase of the AURAN project called ‘Disaster Risk Reduction: cases from urban Africa’. The book is being sold commercially, although some copies will be distributed through BookAid International. Click here for more information.

The AURAN partners also hosted a seminar at the World Urban Forum in Nanjing, China in November 2008 on 'Addressing Urban risk in Africa: local perspectives'. The session demonstrated the rapidly growing urban population in Africa has already begun to reshape the geography of disaster risk and scope for reducing that risk. Presenters showed the importance not only of risk mapping and analysis to identify vulnerable people and places but also the need to for partnership between those at risk, academics and researchers and policy makers if knowledge is to turn into action.

In July 2008, AURAN partners met in Cape Town to share and discuss plans for second phase activities. Project activities have recently started in Accra, Algiers, Bamako, Dar es Salaam, and Niamey.

AURAN is also developing linkages with PeriperiU (a USAID-supported initiative to build capacity within African universities to deliver DRR courses) and PHREE-Way (a network of universities and INGOs). Both initiatives indirectly also contribute to strengthening the capacity of the AURAN partners.


Goal and Objectives

The project's main goal is to bring international focus to the reduction of disaster risks in urban areas of Africa through the establishment of an African Urban Risk Analysis Network (AURAN) and the implementation of example risk reduction programmes in selected sites in Africa.

Through the AURAN project, the network members aim to build and maintain a virtual African network to allow disaster risk reduction practitioners to access common resources and exchange dialogue on critical issues in the field. The AURAN website provides a platform for institutional networking and information sharing amongst African universities, NGOs and CBOs on the subject of urban risk reduction.

The project's main objectives are to:

  • Identify disaster risk accumulation processes linked to urbanisation and structural and non-structural ways to reduce this risk;
  • Locate the understanding of disaster risk in urban areas within the continuum of risk from everyday hazards to disasters and the linkages between them;
  • Identify the main constraints to disaster risk reduction in urban areas;
  • Initiate disaster risk reduction initiatives in the six cities and develop tools that can be applied in other cities and vulnerable neighbourhoods to identify and act on disaster risk reduction;
  • Catalyse and support interest in this topic in urban areas all over Africa.

The AURAN project supports community-based action research, a unique risk accumulation analysis of urban areas, and a network of participating partners working on urban project initiatives in each of the six countries. In each location a local partnership of academic institutions, governmental and NGO organisations is working to identify city and neighbourhood strategies that can address growing degrees of disaster risk and that together can inform policymaking at broader national and international levels.


The AURAN project was initially coordinated by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) but the network is now managed from the Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihoods Programme (DiMP) at University of Cape Town. Partner institutions include universities and NGOs, in six urban areas across Africa, with support from both ProVention and UNDP.

The six partners are:

Phase 1 projects

The six partner institutions that form the core of AURAN completed work programmes in seven cities. The work included documenting the methods used and the many partners involved in the work. In each city, this included consultations with the inhabitants of a range of illegal and informal settlements, to ensure that the recommendations coming out of this work address the needs of the most vulnerable groups.

The Faculty of Civil Engineering at the University of Science and Technology in Algiers completed an assessment of the seismic vulnerability of buildings in Algiers, and identified measures to reduce vulnerability to earthquakes, including protecting the un-reinforced masonry structures that make up a major portion of Algiers’ building stock. Read final report (phase 1) [French, pdf, 7.5MB]...

The University of Accra in Ghana developed a disaster risk reduction programme for the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area, supported by an analysis of trends in environmental hazards (ranging from everyday, small incidents to disasters), a database that maps these incidents and an analysis of risk accumulation processes, to serve as an early warning system. Read final report (phase 1) [pdf, 1.9MB]...

The Disaster Management Research Unit at Kenyatta University (Kenya) documented the scale of serious injury and accidental death caused by road traffic in selected Kenyan urban centres (where accidental deaths per vehicle are 30 times higher than in most European cities). The aim is to identify the processes that increase the risks of large and small-scale road traffic accidents, and to recommend measures to reduce these risks. Read final report (phase 1) [pdf, 0.1MB]...

ENDA-Tiers Monde (Environment and Development-Third World) in Senegal undertook a careful analysis of who is at risk of flooding in Saint Louis (Senegal), and why – and also what factors contribute to the accumulation of flood risk. From this, an action plan and assistance strategy are being developed in conjunction with community groups and other stakeholders, to reduce the risk of flooding and to address communities’ vulnerability to floods. Read final report (phase 1) [pdf, 0.9MB]...

The Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihoods Programme (DiMP) at the University of Cape Town developed a disaster risk reduction strategy for Cape Town, with a particular interest in reducing risks from fires. This is supporting the city’s informal settlement upgrading programme. DiMP also documented the methods used – especially a very detailed database on the kinds and spatial locations of accidental fires – and offered advice to other institutions on how these methods might be applied in other locations. Read final report (phase 1) [pdf, 0.8MB]...

The Ardhi University Disaster Management Training Centre in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) completed the identification of disaster risks and the development of risk reduction programmes in three informal settlements in the city. Read final report (phase 1) [pdf, 4.6MB]...


The first project phase started in September 2004 and ended in mid 2006. The second project phase started in September 2008.

Outputs & events

Through the AURAN project, a virtual network and website have been created to enable disaster risk reduction researchers and practitioners across Africa to share and access common resources and engage in dialogue on critical risk issues concerning urban risk (

Next Steps

The AURAN partners are currently initiating a next phase of activities, which started in September 2008.


Related past activities