Catalyzing transformative urban water resilience projects

By Climate Champions | May 18, 2022

Have you ever imagined a world without water? For many on the African continent, it is not a dream but a devastating reality. Water is central to our livelihoods, our health, development and our wellbeing, and yet currently, approximately 400 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to basic drinking water and 1 in 3 Africans are facing water scarcity.

This challenge shows no signs of abating. By 2050, Africa’s urban population will have more than doubled, making it the most rapidly urbanized region in the world. Impacts from climate change (such as droughts and flooding) will worsen already existing water stresses on the continent, coupled with water demand increases, projected to rise by 300% by 2030 alone. Over two-thirds of Africa’s cities are expected to face extreme climate risks, exacerbating city dwellers’ lack of access to safe water and sanitation services, particularly the poorest living in informal settlements.

There is clearly an urgent need to increase access to safe and clean water, and to reduce exposure to water-related hazards in African cities, whilst the gap in urban water finance must be filled urgently through collaborative efforts from all stakeholders. A new, more holistic approach and transformative initiative is needed to understand water and climate challenges and then chart a path for a more resilient future that puts equitable access and flexible, adaptable solutions at the center.

A good example of a transformative initiative and effort supported by the United Nations is the Catalytic Fund for Urban Water Resilience in Africa, which aims to leverage both private and public financial resources to jumpstart transformative urban water resilience projects on the ground to better insulate growing cities from future risks. This approach will also galvanize larger-scale investment in water resilience, while grounding innovative research, design, and action with local realities and understanding communities’ needs.

The Fund’s major aim is to leverage $5 billion in funding and financing to implement strategic and innovative urban water resilience projects at scale in 100 African cities by 2032. Currently, the Catalytic Fund is being developed through collaborative work led by the World Resources Institute (WRI), a steering group of respected financial experts, and with ongoing discussions amongst stakeholders (such as Resilient Cities Network, ICLEI-Africa, Arup, WaterAid, African Centre for Cities, Akiba Mashinani Trust, Cap-Net UNDP, partner cities in Rwanda, among others).

The Fund will address several key challenges facing impacted communities across the continent, helping to provide improved and increased access to safe, reliable, affordable and clean water, sustainable sanitation, reduced risks from floods and water borne diseases, improved productivity, amongst many others.

On the May 20 2022, the  UN High Level Climate Champions, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the South African Cities Network (SACN) are therefore delighted to co-host “Climate and Water Resilience: Harnessing Nature” at the Africities Summit in Kisumu, Kenya (14.00-18.00pm EAT) to highlight the Catalytic Fund as a transformational tool that translates climate risks into investable opportunities for building climate resilience.

Learn more on the event page.

Link to the event card is here.

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