David Smith and Beatriz Medina of WE&B coordinated an AfriAlliance workshop for African utility representatives on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at the 77th African Water Association’s Scientific and Technical Meetings in Accra, Ghana. This workshop identified the needs and priorities of water-managing organizations arising from climate change impacts on water-related activities.
Africa will be one of the most affected continents by climate change said David Smith. The expected increase in droughts will continue to affect the economy and society. The sustainable management and cost-effective climate change adaptation and mitigation measures in Africa will all depend on knowledge-based approaches and solutions. These knowledge based solutions do exist in Africa, they just must be identified and disseminated. AfriAlliance serves as an alliance of networks, connecting existing African and European networks in water and climate to work on these issues.
Representatives determined their organization’s tasks as defined in their mandate; and then identified short-term (3-5 years) tasks affected by climate change. Participants distinguished which of these tasks would require changes or improvements to prepare for climate change. Taking into account climate change challenges, representatives determined outcomes, risks and obstacles that the organization would like to avoid, i.e. water shortages. The next activity was identifying the potential outcomes or benefits that the organization could achieve because of actions taken to mitigate climate change, i.e. water reuse or increased efficiency. Finally, participants determined the links between these tasks and potential outcomes.
Organizational representatives also discussed what their priorities were at the local level, or key themes that should be collectively addressed. Groups then chose their top five priorities, examples included:
- Climate change public awareness campaign because the public needs to understand in order to build resilience. One group stressed coastal areas because of their risk.
- Include climate change in policy, i.e. investing in green energy or other mitigation activities
- Include climate change in urban planning, i.e. space allocation, do not build in flood zones
- Research into better wastewater processing or desalination
- Preservation of water resources, i.e. public awareness campaign on wastewater discharge into waterways, riparian buffer zones, or salinization of coastal aquifers
- Promote water efficiency, i.e. drip irrigation or using recycled wastewater in agriculture
Following the workshop, AfriAlliance will now search for relevant solutions to the expressed needs and inform participants or include them in the future research agenda if solutions are not found. Prioritized themes will be used to launch the next set of AfriAlliance Actions Groups in March 2018.
By Amber Schrum