A glimpse of Nairobi's skyline. The Rockefeller Foundation opened its 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge on August 6. Photo by: Tom Spender / CC BY-NC-SA

It’s that time of year again, when the Philippine capital of Manila is once again at risk of floods, and hurricanes are again posing threats to the still fragile city of Port-au-Prince in Haiti. But the biggest downside to this: More people are exposed to potential weather disasters or health problems.

Some 50 percent of the world’s population now live in urban cities. And that’s why several aid groups, foundations and even donors have started to focus their attention on improving service delivery in urban settings. In March for instance, the U.S. Agency for International Development solicited feedback for its proposed Sustainable Urban Services Policy in which it advises missions worldwide to incorporate urban assessments in country development cooperation strategies.

Now, a big foundation is also stepping up to the plate. As part of its centennial year initiatives, the Rockefeller Foundation officially opened on Monday its 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge. The goal, in the words of foundation President Judith Rodin, is to enable city dwellers to “actually rebound more quickly, perhaps fail more safely, to be able to withstand shocks and not have them really create the kind of devastation we’re seeing at present time.”

The challenge invites municipal government leaders and major institutions with strong affiliation with a particular city to register and apply until Sept. 23. Applicants need to submit a letter of support from an elected or appointed most senior representative of the city. A total of $100 million will be made available for the next three years.

The foundation will choose 100 cities around the world under the challenge. Selected cities will receive financial and technical support to create a resilience plan and hire a chief resilience officer that will oversee the development of the strategy. Cities will also become a member of the 100 Resilient Cities Network, a platform to share knowledge and best practices on resilience.

“We can’t predict when or where the next crisis will hit. The only thing we know for sure is that they will …  Building the resilience of our urban places will be critical to face down new challenges and threats, some of which we have begun to imagine and plan for — many we have not,” Rodin said in a statement.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.