Five years ago, a group of stakeholders from African and U.S. academic institutions came together in Kampala, Uganda, to create a network that draws on the knowledge and expertise of African scholars, students, and researchers to give voice and agency to vulnerable communities and address development challenges in Africa. Through the years, the RAN has engaged 20 universities across 13 countries in Africa as well as two United States-based universities to build and sustain the resilience of target communities by nurturing and scaling up innovations driven by each community’s needs. This Second State of African Resilience Report 2017 discusses the RAN methodology used by universities to engage with communities to understand drivers of vulnerability and adaptive capabilities and develop innovative solutions to address shocks and stressors.
The ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), funded by USAID, focuses on creating an analytical framework to assist in identifying and cultivating data-driven solutions to strengthen resilience and improve development efforts in Africa. In partnership with Uganda’s Makerere University, leading a consortium of 20 other African universities, Stanford, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), RAN taps into scientific and technological advances to strengthen resilience at an unprecedented scale on the continent.
This first report, The State of African Resilience: Understanding the Dimensions of Vulnerability and Resilience, offers a brief background on the evolution and objectives of the ResilientAfrica Network and describes the new methodological tools that the network brings to measuring and improving community resilience. The report also offers a preliminary look at what the RILabs (RAN’s regional university-based centres for implementation of resilience programs) are learning in the diverse communities in which they work. Each RILab outlines what it considers the most salient dimensions of resilience and vulnerability; analyzes how these dimensions relate to one another and to overall community resilience; and, based on that analysis, identifies the most promising entry points for resilience innovation and intervention. Among the important innovations of the RAN approach is developing the concept of “pathways” of vulnerability and resilience, which brings a more differentiated analysis to the study of resilience, examining multiple aspects of cause and effect—how individual dimensions of resilience influence each other and how they are more or less directly related to overall community resilience and vulnerability.
The framework provides guidelines for measuring resilience, so as to: better understand shocks and stresses that affect populations and systems and the factors that render them vulnerable to those shocks and stresses, better understand what makes people and systems resilient (what makes them capable to withstand or adapt to shocks and stresses in a manner that makes them less vulnerable to future risks), identify resilience dimensions and indicators and assessing system resilience and to identify entry points and prioritize interventions to strengthen capacities and reduce vulnerabilities to build systems’ resilience.