Bringing together the water sector

Water and climate change challenges in Africa:
matching needs and solutions

Africa is one of the regions most in need of innovative solutions for tackling water and climate change-related challenges, yet many parts of Africa are also suffering from a lack of water-related skills and capacity as well as wide-spread institutional fragmentation. The AfriAlliance project aims to better prepare Africa for future climate change challenges by having African and European stakeholders work together in the areas of water innovation, research, policy, and capacity development.

Rather than creating new networks, the 16 EU and African partners in this project consolidate existing ones, consisting of scientists, decision makers, practitioners, citizens and other key stakeholders, into an effective, problem-focused knowledge sharing mechanism. This is coordinated by means of an innovation platform: the Africa-EU Innovation Alliance for Water and Climate.

As both AfriAlliance and VIA Water focus on innovative solutions in the African water sector, it was logical to start working together and exchange knowledge and experiences. In June 2016 this cooperation was formalised in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two knowledge platforms. We keep each other posted on project developments, and look for concrete opportunities for cooperation.

One opportunity has presented itself recently. AfriAlliance has just produced a comprehensive report on the water-related needs of African stakeholders that arise in the context of climate change. It focuses on the demand-side of innovation by identifying the needs of water utilities, river basin organisations and civil society organisations in relation to climate change challenges. This bottom-up approach is complemented by a top-down policy perspective of the societal challenges in Africa due to climate change (see figure below). Also, the barriers and bottlenecks of existing solutions are assessed. The next step in the coming months is to match the identified needs with potential solutions. This is where the projects of VIA Water come into play.

As the projects of VIA Water focus on innovative solutions for water problems in African cities, they could be a perfect match with the needs of, for example, some of the water utilities that we have engaged with and whose specific needs we have identified. We will explore which solutions best match the identified needs and how we can actually bring the involved parties together. One platform for this could be the next AfriAlliance Innovation Bridge Event (IBE), where matched needs and innovations will be showcased to a broader range of stakeholders, and including funders and entrepreneurs, to accelerate innovation uptake and dissemination. We will organise this in the coming months. Let’s see what the combined expertise of AfriAlliance and VIA Water can do to foster the uptake of innovative solutions by the water sector in Africa!

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