Omo river in Omo Valley, Omorate, Ethiopia. Representing the Dechatu River.


SUNCASA is working to strengthen climate change adaptation and biodiversity protection in Dire Dawa (Ethiopia), Kigali (Rwanda), and Johannesburg (South Africa) by responding directly to locally identified needs and priorities. By implementing gender-responsive nature-based solutions (NbS) for watershed conservation and restoration, the initiative aims to increase urban resilience to a host of climate-related risks, including flooding.

Approximately 2.2 million people living in high-flood-risk areas will directly benefit from the gender-responsive NbS. In addition, an estimated 7 million residents will see increased resilience to urban water stress and heat, landslides, and soil erosion while benefitting from the climate-resilient livelihoods generated by the project.

Some of the nature-based solutions SUNCASA will implement include the restoration of degraded lands in Dire Dawa and Kigali, the reforestation and rehabilitation of degraded urban forestlands in Kigali, and the removal of alien invasive species in Johannesburg’s Jukskei catchments. Alongside restoration activities, SUNCASA will rehabilitate riparian and wetland buffer habitats and increase urban tree canopy coverage to address urban heat island effects in all three locations.

Our Approach

SUNCASA’s success is founded on three pivotal assumptions. First, an improved understanding of the intersectional gendered impacts of climate change will foster openness to gender-responsive NbS. The second is that local partners are committed to embracing NbS as an effective and financially viable response to tackling climate-related risks. The third is that municipal officials and other stakeholders are open to adapting current governance frameworks to become more gender inclusive and responsive.

    Our Goals

    The SUNCASA initiative aims to:

    • develop and implement gender-responsive NbS to restore and rehabilitate river catchments, reducing flood risk and ensuring water security;
    • promote gender equality and social inclusion, removing barriers for women and underrepresented groups in climate adaptation decision making, planning, delivery, and monitoring;
    • build resilient livelihoods and protect local biodiversity;
    • create green job opportunities;
    • improve the well-being of communities by developing green public spaces.

    SUNCASA Team

    Headshot of Ben Simmons

    Benjamin Simmons

    Director, Sustainable Infrastructure

    Todd Gartner, WRI

    Todd Gartner

    Director, Cities4Forests and Natural Infrastructure, WRI

    Aklilu Fikresilassie, WRI - SUNCASA

    Aklilu Fikresilassie

    Director, Thriving Resilient Cities, WRI Africa; Representative of WRI in Ethiopia

    Head shot of Alec Crawford

    Alec Crawford

    Director, Nature for Resilience

    Alemakef Tassew, Urban Development Project Specialist, WRI Africa

    Alemakef Tassew

    Urban Development Project Specialist, WRI Africa

    Amanda Gcanga, WRI Africa, Johannesburg, SUNCASA

    Amanda Gcanga

    Country Lead for Urban Water Resilience & Senior Urban Policy Analyst, WRI

    Head shot of Ana

    Ana Balanean

    Policy Advisor, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion

    Ayushi Trivedi, Gender Specialist, WRI

    Ayushi Trivedi

    Research Associate, Gender and Social Equity, WRI

    Cesar Henrique Arrais

    Cesar Henrique Arrais

    Senior Communications Officer

    Clare Blackwell, WRI - SUNCASA

    Clare Blackwell

    Research Analyst II, WRI

    Daniela Facchini, WRI - SUNCASA

    Daniela Facchini

    Director, Global Operations and Program Management, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

    David Uszoki

    David Uzsoki

    Lead, Sustainable Finance


    Dimple Roy

    Director, Water Management

    Eden Tekele, WRI Africa - SUNCASA

    Eden Takele

    Engagement & Communications Specialist, Climate Program and WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, WRI Africa


    Hajra Atiq

    Project Manager

    Hellen Wanjohi-Opil, WRI AFrica

    Hellen Wanjohi-Opil

    Resilience African Cities Lead, WRI Africa

    Josephine Apajo, WRI - SUNCASA

    Josephine Apajo

    Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Learning Manager, WRI Africa

    IISD-DSC08219 - Liesbeth Casier for web.jpg

    Liesbeth Casier

    Lead, Public Procurement and Sustainable Infrastructure and Coordinator of the NBI Global Resource Centre

    Lisa Beyer, WRI

    Lisa Beyer

    Urban Water Infrastructure Manager, WRI

    Lizzie Marsters, WRI

    Lizzie Marsters

    Environmental Finance Manager, Natural Infrastructure, WRI


    Lynn Wagner

    Senior Director, Tracking Progress

    Marc Manyifika, WRI Africa

    Marc Manyifika

    Country Lead for Urban Water Resilience/Lead Spatial Planner for the program, WRI Africa


    Matthew TenBruggencate

    Communications Manager

    Meghan Stromberg, WRI

    Meghan Stromberg

    Urban Resilience Project Coordinator, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

    Headshot of Michail

    Michail Kapetanakis

    Research Analyst

    Woman with curly hair wearing black and smiling

    Nona Rogava

    Project Manager

    Pablo Lazo, WRI - SUNCASA

    Pablo Lazo

    Director of Urban Development, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

    Bio photo of Richard Grosshans

    Richard Grosshans

    Lead II, Bioremediation

    Sadof Alexander

    Sadof Alexander

    Communications Manager, Cities4Forests, WRI

    Head shot of Samantha Boardley

    Samantha Boardley



    Stefan Jungcurt

    Lead II, SDG Indicators and Data, Tracking Progress


    Tristan Easton

    Senior Project Manager

    Photo of Zeph Migeni Adjode

    Zephaniah Migeni Ajode

    Project Manager, IISD-ELA