In Accra, Ghana, some 70 percent of commuters get around by trotro—privately operated minibuses that charge just a couple of quarters per trip. But trotros are also a bane. Drivers are notorious rule-breakers, jamming intersections and causing crashes. The aging vehicles lack seatbelts and emit noxious fumes that deteriorate Accra’s already poor air.
Trotros neared the top of the list when Accra launched an assessment of its civic weak spots last year, under the mantle of 100 Resilient Cities. That’s the Rockefeller Foundation-sponsored urban resilience network, of which Accra is one of 80 global members. In March 2018, 100 Resilient Cities convened Accra’s elected leaders and international development groups to talk about how transportation challenges, in addition to poor sanitation and flooding, threatened the city’s resilience to fires, cholera outbreaks, and other shocks. Representatives from the Agence Française de Développement, the International Finance Corporation, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency listened in.
This is just one example of how 100 Resilient Cities is helping an urbanized corner of the planet become a safer, stronger community. But such opportunities are likely coming to a close. Earlier this month, the Rockefeller Foundation, the U.S.-based philanthropy devoted to promoting “the well-being of humanity throughout the world,” announced plans to wind down financial support for this resilience program. Launched in 2013, 100 Resilient Cities had become one of the largest privately funded climate-change initiatives in the world.
Now, as cities endeavor to implement plans for disaster-proof infrastructure, improved civic cohesion, and other projects that tie into their localized definition of “resilience,” they are wondering how they might do so in the absence of the high-profile organization’s robust offerings—financial support, planning expertise, private-sector connections, and a forum to exchange ideas and best practices.