Missing Maps: exploring risk and resilience in urban Africa in the absence of rich spatial data.

15 June 2017 - 12:00pm
UCT Upper Campus, EGS Building, Library
Contact Person: 
Katinka Waagsaether
Contact Email: 

With Dr Faith E. Taylor

Seminar focus: Towns and cities in Africa are subject to a range of natural hazards such as storms, earthquakes and floods. Understanding how risk might be expressed differently in different parts of a city generally requires detailed spatial data on the hazard and the elements exposed. Yet against a backdrop of rapid and often informal urban growth, it can be a challenge for to access up-to-date spatial data with which to understand risk and resilience. The work presented here aims to approach this problem from different perspectives. Firstly, using a simple remote sensing technique to coarsely zone an urban area into different infrastructure typologies (‘urban textures’) in a method that can rapidly and systematically be applied to a range of towns and cities across Africa to assess multiple-hazard risk to infrastructure. The second approach will present some very recent and experimental work performed in Cape Town using qualitative GIS techniques to visualise resilience to flooding in informal settlements in Philippi. These approaches are united by exploring methods to fill in some of the blanks on maps, and tell a richer spatial stories about risk and resilience to natural hazards in urban Africa. 

Dr Faith E. TaylorFaith is a physical geographer with interests in geographic information systems (GIS), spatial modelling, statistics and natural hazards. Faith has been at King’s since 2009, where she undertook her MSc in Environmental Modelling Monitoring and Management, and then PhD research on statistical patterns in triggered landslide event inventories and the development of a landslide road impact model. She is now a postdoctoral research associate, working on the  ESRC-DfID funded project “Urban ARK” which looks at risk and vulnerability in urban Africa.

Faith’s research focuses around developing simple statistical and spatial models that can be used to visualise and understand the impact of natural hazards and applied to many locations across the world where detailed data may be unavailable or too expensive to obtain. She does this by looking at the underlying statistical behaviour of populations of natural hazards to see if this can be used as a ‘template’ for future event behaviour. Her PhD research mainly focused on investigating this type of behaviour in triggered landslide events to understand how landslides impact road networks, which contributed to the FP7 LAMPRE project. She is now expanding on this work to look at cascades of natural hazards and their impact upon a variety of infrastructures in urban Africa.

Faith is a co-founder and creative director of  Intrepid Explorers, which is a platform that aims to promote the importance of field research and travel in education. She very much enjoys the education and outreach elements of her work and has been involved in several projects working to better communicate our understanding of natural hazards, GIS and geography to the public and school students.