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Liana Ricci: Reinterpreting Sub-Saharan Cities through the Concept of Adaptive Capacity: An Analysis of Autonomous Adaptation in Response to Environmental Changes in Peri-Urban Areas. SpringerBriefs in Environment, Security, Development and Peace, vol. 26 (Cham– New York – Heidelberg – Dordrecht – London: Springer International Publishing, 2016).

ISBN (Print): 978-3-319-27124-8
ISBN (Online/eBook):978-3-319- 27126-2
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319- 27126-2

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About this book

This book explores whether and how a reinterpretation of Sub-Saharan cities, through the concept of adaptive capacity, could bridge this distance and contribute to a new understanding of the contemporary city. The research contributes to improved knowledge of urban and environmental planning and of the dynamics of development and environmental management in peri-urban areas of Dar es Salaam. This knowledge highlights the limits of certain common generalizations on the character of peri-urban areas. Moreover, the research provides methodological contribution derived from considerations on the strengths and weakness of tools and methods for investigating adaptive capacity and for environmental management, in the city of Dar es Salaam. Finally, it highlights controversial issues and possible research paths related to the relationship between adaptive capacity and urban and environmental planning.

  • This volume includes original knowledge on autonomous adaptation and environmental management in Dar es Salaam;
  • It provides an original integration of adaptation and urban planning concept in a post-colonial framework;
  • A new perspective on the coupled human-environment system and its relevance for adaptation.

1 Introduction – 2 Cities of Sub-Saharan Africa: Failed or Ordinary Cities? – 3 Interpreting the Sub-Saharan City: Approaches for Urban Development – 4 Environmental Management and Urbanization: Dar es Salaam as an Illustrative Case – 5 Adaptive Capacity as a Strategic Element for Reducing Vulnerability to Environmental Changes – 6 Conclusions: The Distance Between Critical Review and Institutional Commitment
References – Annex I: Questionnaires – Annex II: Glossary – Annex III: Land Tenure System in Tanzania – Annex IV: Adaptation Opportunities in Cities – Annex V: Climate Change Impacts on Human Settlements – On La Sapienza University, Rome – On the Author


On the Author

Liana Ricci

Liana Ricci (Italy) is an Environmental Engineer and has a PhD in Urban Planning. She is currently a post-doc fellow in the Department of Civil, Building and Environmental Engineering at SAPIENZA University of Rome in Italy. Her major fields of specialization are urban and environmental planning in sub-Saharan cities, adaptive capacity assessment, climate change adaptation mainstreaming into urban policy and plans and urban policy mobility. Liana has conducted research in methodology development for data collection and analysis on spontaneous practices for climate change adaptation in urban areas of the Least Developed Countries, Local Agenda 21, in Environmental Planning and Management in peri-urban areas and on socio-technical transitions and resilient infrastructure.
Her work has been presented at several national and international conferences and workshops (INURA; AESOP; ICSS 2010; European Ph.D. Network on International Climate Policy 2010; Ph.D. Workshop on Sustainable Development, Columbia University 2011, UICCA conference, Turin 2011 and 2013, UGRG 2014). In 2013 she was Blue Book trainee at European Commission, DG CLIMA, working as a Policy Assistant in the team for Mainstreaming of Climate Action into Cohesion Policy for the programming period 2014-2020 and in macroregions, and supported the development of the Knowledge Gap Strategy for Climate Action (Horizon 2020). During the same year she was also at UN Habitat for the Internship programme on Urban Planning to stimulate and contribute to research related to Cities and Climate Chance Initiative (CCCI) and participate in CCCI Technical Support Team. Among her major publications are: Ricci, L, Sanou, B, Baguian, H, (2015) “Climate risks in West Africa: Bobo-Dioulasso local actors’ participatory risks management framework”, in: Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 13 (April): 42-48, <>; Macchi, S, Ricci, L (2014) Mainstreaming Adaptation into Urban Development and Environmental Management Planning: a literature review and lesson from Tanzania. Macchi, S. Tiepolo, M. (eds), Climate Change Vulnerability in Southern African Cities (Springer Climate): 109-124, < 10.1007%2F978-3-319-00672-7_7>; Ricci, L (2014) “Linking adaptive capacity and peri-urban features”, in: Macchi, S. Tiepolo, M. (eds), Climate Change Vulnerability in Southern African Cities (Springer Climate): 89-107, <http://link.>; Congedo, L, Macchi S, Ricci, L, Faldi G, (2013): “Urban sprawl e adattamento al cambiamento climatico: il caso di Dar es Salaam. Planum”, in: The Journal of Urbanism, 27,vol 2.; Kehew, R, Rollo, C, Mthobeli, K, Callejas, A, Alber, G, & Ricci, L, (2013): “Formulating and implementing climate change laws and policies in the Philippines, Mexico (Chiapas) and South Africa: A local government perspective. Local Environment”, in: International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 18,6: 723-737.


Sapienza University of Rome

Sapienza University of Rome

Sapienza University of Rome, officially Sapienza – Università di Roma, also called simply Sapienza formerly known as Università degli studi di Roma "La Sapienza", is a collegiate research university. It is the largest European university by enrollments and one of the oldest in the history, founded in 1303. Sapienza has been a high performer among the largest universities in international ranking. Since its foundation more than 700 years ago, Sapienza has played an important role in Italian history and has been directly involved in key changes and developments in society, economics and politics. It has contributed to the development of Italian and European science and culture in all areas of knowledge, and educated numerous notable alumni, including many Nobel laureates, presidents of the European Parliament, heads of several nations and significant scientists and astronauts.

Since its 2011 reform, Sapienza University of Rome has eleven faculties and 65 departments. Today Sapienza, with 140,000 students and 8,000 academic, technical and administrative staff, is the largest university in Italy. The university has significant research programmes in the fields of engineering, natural sciences, biomedical sciences and humanities. It offers 10 Masters Programmes taught entirely in English.

Sapienza offers a vast array of courses including degree programmes, PhD courses, professional courses and Specialization Schools in many disciplines, run by 63 Departments and 11 Faculties. Sapienza carries out outstanding scientific research in most disciplines, achieving impressive results on the national and international level. Sapienza also enhances research by offering opportunities to academia on a global scale. Thanks to a special programme for visiting professors, many foreign researchers and lecturers periodically visit the University and contribute greatly to the quality of education and research programmes. Some 8,000 foreign students are regularly enrolled at Sapienza and there are over 1,100 incoming and outgoing exchange students each year with the support of several mobility programmes.

Department of Civil, Constructional and Environmental Engineering (DICEA)

The Department of Civil, Building, and Environmental Engineering (DICEA) in the Faculty of Engineering of Sapienza University of Rome, was established on 1 July 2010, and merged the cultural traditions of the Departments of Architecture and Urban Planning for Engineering and of the Department of Hydraulics, Transport, and Roads. Its teaching and research focuses on a wide variety of disciplines in architecture and urban planning, civil engineering, and environmental engineering.

DICEA contributes to several undergraduate and graduate programs in the School of Civil and Industrial Engineering and offers three PhD programmes: Infrastructure and Transport, Hydraulics and Environmental Engineering, and Architecture and Urban Planning Engineering. DICEA also contributes to post-graduate training through fellowships and research grants, and offers two post-graduate degrees, in Railway Infrastructure and Systems Engineering and in Management and Maintenance of Ecological Plants.

DICEA is actively engaged in research on frontier areas for its different fields of expertise, which places it in a top position on the national and international scene, in both basic and applied research. Due to its close collaboration with public authorities and institutions and with business and services companies, DICEA has acquired a strong ability to develop testing applications and on-field studies. The experimental approaches used are largely multi- and interdisciplinary, as increasingly required by the complexity of the issues addressed and the aim of methodological innovation.

The main research areas of DICEA are:

  • Technical Architecture • Hydraulic Infrastructure
  • Geodesy and Geomatics • Geophysics
  • Geology and Geotechnology • Hydraulics
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Roads
  • Transportation
  • Architectural and Urban Design
  • Urban Planning

Evidence of this extensive research is the number of scientific publications, the many national and international conferences and exhibitions organized, the active involvement in a number of national and international research networks, the national and international awards obtained, and the creation of patents.

DICEA’s research is characterized by a strong internationalization and operates through different types of activities based on different funding sources, both public and private, national and international: government research programmes (PRIN, FIRB, etc.) and research institutions’ programmes (CNR, etc.); grants and tenders from the EU and other international organizations; regional and local government authorities; agencies and public institutions (land reclamation consortia, river basin authorities, etc.); public purpose services companies (in the fields of transport, energy, waste, water, infrastructure, mobility, etc.); University funding, etc. As a natural extension of these research activities, a number of university spin-offs have been initiated, which offer also opportunities to support the activities of young researchers.