Africa is the world’s most rapidly urbanizing continent. Between 2000 and 2030 the urban population will more than double and the urban area will increase by more than 700 percent.

The Urban Natural Assets for Africa programme with SwedBio partner, ICLEI’s Cities Biodiversity Center was designed to improve human well-being, contribute to poverty alleviation and build resilience of the urban poor in sub-Saharan cities in Africa. It aims to carry out these goals through building local capacity to enhance local implementation of the Aichi Biodiversity targets.

To reach a wider audience across sub-Saharan Africa a mobile application called THRIVE was developed by ICLEI’s Cities Biodiversity Center in collaboration with Aurecon and with contributions from SwedBio. The App was funded by Sida through SwedBio and produced by Learnways.


60 nature-based solutions to improve people’s lives

The THRIVE mobile application is a guide on how to achieve the most with limited resources. It is a step-by-step guide on how to implement 60 nature-based solutions for the protection and sustainable use of natural assets in cities across sub-Saharan Africa that can help improve people’s lives. The app houses solutions that can be achieved by an individual or community, at the local scale.

The guidelines are divided into six themes:

  • restoring soil
  • saving water
  • rehabilitating green spaces
  • producing food gardens
  • sustainable cooking and energy
  • preventing disease and disaster


The content was based on a needs assessment and input from over 20 specialists involved in the creation of Malawi’s Integrated Catchment Management Guidelines. These were created in consultation with many different stakeholders within the Malawi Government, Shire River Basin Management Program and stakeholders throughout Malawi.

Although the guidelines were created for the Malawian context, the final application content was compiled and adapted using numerous sources, including local input from each city participating in the UNA Africa project.


User-friendly app for Android

THRIVE was created for Android users – results from a survey of users showed that it was the most popular mobile operating system amongst the UNA Africa project participants. It was user tested with a core user-group of 30 participants from the UNA cities in order to ensure that it is a useful and user-friendly tool.

The application can be downloaded for free via Google Play, and is accompanied by a dedicated website and introductory animated video


SwedBio funds UNA Africa for another four years

The first phase of the UNA Africa programme (2014-2015) helped to foster greater awareness and a deeper understanding of the unique challenges faced by cities in sub-Saharan Africa regarding natural resource management. It included a series of multi-actor workshops gathering local governments, urban planners, researchers, NGOs and community based organisations. The workshops assisted in identifying instrumental partners and key stakeholders, and highlighted important focus areas for deeper engagement around urban river systems in each city.

As a result of the UNA Africa project’s foundational work, a four year programme called Urban Natural Assets for Africa: Rivers for Life was designed, which will run from 2016-2019, and will form part of ICLEI Africa’s flagship biodiversity projects and programmes. It will be funded and actively supported by SwedBio.

The UNA Africa: Rivers for Life programme aims to mainstream biodiversity and ecosystem services into land use planning and local government decision-making processes around urban river systems, through better coordination and community-based activation, contributing to strengthened sustainability and resilience at the local level, enhancing human well-being and contributing to poverty alleviation.

Target cities are Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Lilongwe (Malawi) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).