Assessment of urban water management in sub-Saharan African cities (Results of a workshop on Water Security)

Posted in: WIRC @ Bath

On 27 and 28 February the University of Bath, KWR, UNESCO Division of Water Science and the International Water Association (IWA) organised a workshop on water security in sub-Saharan African cities. The workshop was held at the 20th International Congress and Exhibition of the African Water Association (AfWA) in Kampala (Uganda). During the meeting, the results of the assessments of urban water management using the City Blueprint Approach were presented. These water management assessments were carried out by local young professionals in five African cities.

Aim of the workshop was to train young professionals in how to develop a roadmap to enhance action for improved water security. Moreover, the workshop has been the kick-off for developing a city-to-city learning programme on water security and water governance. The key conclusions were that capacity-building is essential for achieving sustainable development goal 6 on clean water and sanitation. In order to do so, the City Blueprint Approach provides an indispensable diagnosis for understanding the key priorities, exploit the largely untapped potential of city-to-city learning and develop concrete city roadmaps for meeting SDG 6.Enabling water security in African cities

Enabling water security in African cities

Africa’s population is growing unprecedentedly. Population projections indicate more than doubling to 2.5 billion in 2050 and further growth to 4.3 billion in 2100. Most of this growth will be absorbed in cities and urban areas, posing a huge challenge on water security, especially in urban areas. Action to improve water availability at a quality fit for purpose and protection of life, property and ecosystems are becoming extremely urgent and more important than ever.

In preparation for this workshop, baseline assessments of five African cities – Harare, Yaoundé, Abuja, Bangui and Libreville – have been carried out using the City Blueprint Assessment. Dr Stef Koop and Prof Kees van Leeuwen, both scientists at KWR, have been working with representatives of the UNESCO IHP Focal Points and local young experts in each city to collect data on the key social, environmental and financial trends and pressures that can limit good water management. Also, data for the City Blueprint assessment of water management performances were collected. As a next step, a governance capacity analysis will be conducted in Libreville and Yaoundé to identify the capacity-development priorities.


The workshop has laid out a roadmap for enabling the uptake of the results of the City Blueprint assessments by practitioners and decision makers in each city. For this purpose, exploration of bankable projects is key. Next, a guideline for a city-to-city learning alliance has been initiated that has the ambition to include all capital cities in Africa. Each participating city will first start with a City Blueprint assessment carried out by local young professionals to create a common fact-based understanding of the key water security challenges.

Layout of the workshop

Prof Jan Hofman of WIRC and KWR took the initiative to organise the workshop in Kampala, as a follow-up project from Kees van Leeuwen’s appointment as Global Chair in Bath (2018-19). The workshop took place back-to-back with the 20th International Congress and Exhibition of the African Water Association and was hosted by the National Water & Sewerage Corporation of Uganda.

Participants of the workshop, from left to right: Kees van Leeuwen (KWR), Ibrahima Abdoulahi (UNESCO) representing Yaoundé (Gabon), Kizito Masinde programme officer IWA, Gwladis Ovenga (UNESCO) representing Libreville, Jan Hofman (WIRC), Tariro Marekwa (UNESCO) representing Harare, Vanessa Grekonzy (UNESCO) representing Bangui, Georgina Mukwirimba (UNESCO) representing Harare, Stef Koop (KWR) and Humphrey Ozoani (UNESCO) representing Abuja.

Keynote speakers

On the first day, the workshop started with two very important keynote speakers setting the scene for the discussion. The first guest was Dr. Callist Tindimugaya from the Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda. The second speaker was Prof. Kala Vairavamoorthy, the Executive Director of IWA. After the keynotes, young experts of UNESCO presented their findings of the baseline assessment in the five cities. A number of congress delegates joined the workshop to learn from the approach.

Enhancing water security in urban Africa

The second day of the workshop focused on developing the roadmap for a pro-active approach for water security. This will support the young professionals and the cities to connect. In each city two more workshops will be organised. The first one will aim at top level interactions with politicians and decision-makers in the cities to report on the findings of the city blueprint assessments and discuss options for improving water security. The second workshop will then focus on creating improvement projects and the discussions will include UNESCO donor organisations and funders such as the African Development Bank. The idea is to develop long-term bankable projects that will help to improve water security and water governance.

City to city learning network

With the workshop also the foundation has been laid for setting up a new city to city learning network. The ambition is to expand the network by starting to do city blueprints in all African capital cities. The current young water professionals will act as trainers for their colleagues in other cities.

The workshop was co-funded by UNESCO, KWR and the University of Bath (IRO).

For information: Jan Hofman (

Posted in: WIRC @ Bath


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