Webinar: Water in the State and Trends in Adaptation Report 2021: Africa


15 December 2021, 10:30 CET

This webinar aims to bring forward the unique water perspective on adaptation for Africa. While many of the climate impacts are water related, adaptation presents many opportunities to leverage and highlight water issues to accelerate economic and human development.

Event description:

The GCA State and Trends in Adaptation Report 2021: Africa (STA21) presents a comprehensive overview of the present and future prospects of the African continent in the light of climate change. It is also a blueprint for how individuals and institutions in the African and international policy space can finance, design and implement adaptation plans to best protect the lives and livelihoods of millions of African people from such disruptive change. GCA’s State and Trends of Adaptation in Africa report is co-directed by Dr. Ede Jorge Ijjasz-Vasquez, Prof. Jamal Saghir, and Dr. Ian Noble.

This webinar aims at bringing forward the unique water perspective on adaptation for Africa. Many of the climate impacts are water related, but at the same time, adaptation presents many opportunities to leverage and highlight water issues to accelerate economic and human development.

This webinar is part of the Water Adaptation Community (WAC) Webinar Series 2021 – a series of six webinars organised during autumn and winter 2021. These webinars serve to amplify key climate adaptation issues running up to and coming out of COP26. For more information on the webinars and other events organized by WAC, click here.

Key questions addressed

  • What are the key impacts of climate change in Africa and the key impacts on the water cycle in particular?
  • What are the key adaptation strategies and approaches to make the African water cycle climate resilient?
  • What are the most important investment priorities in Africa on water?

What approaches are needed to address water climate adaptation in Africa and elsewhere?
State and Trends in Adaptation Report 2021: Africa identifies the following key approaches to water climate adaptation in Africa:

  • River basin management: Climate change manifests in the water cycle, where it impacts on water’s movement, between the sea, atmosphere, as rain on the landscape, in forests, agricultural lands, rivers, cities, groundwater and back to the ocean. This interplays with changes in land use which provides cascading impacts downstream in the system. For example, considering more extreme precipitation, upstream areas need to be managed to retain water, for example in agriculture, to mitigate downstream floods to cities. In a drier climate, increasing irrigation upstream, will reduce available resources for downstream systems such as drinking water for cities. As such, urban areas rely on upstream watersheds. However, managing these resources is outside their administrative mandate. Urban water utilities or the city’s crisis response departments cannot undertake effective resilient measures without elevating the adaptation agenda to the national or river basin authorities. Water therefore demands a systemic and integrated approach across sectors, finding synergies and trade-offs and take active decisions on priorities. Planning is therefore vital, at river basin level and at urban level to connect all uses of water. However, this is a challenge in Africa and elsewhere.
  • Integrated landscape management: Given the cascading nature, water is not only available in waterbodies and groundwater and oceans as “blue water” but also held in vegetation and soil as “green water”. Vegetation and the atmosphere have an important role to play in ensuring water holding capacity, which also supports biodiversity and increases carbon sequestration, slows down flows and retains water. However, this ecosystem service is often not valued, governed, or managed. Vegetation also ensures cooler microclimates, infiltration into the soil, which in turn enables more vegetation and so on. For centuries, humans have dried out the land to increase production of food and fibre and increase land for human dwellings, transport, and many other uses. These priorities have created trade-offs such as man-made drought, urban heat islands, floods, degradation of ecosystems and their associated water resources. Integrated landscape management can bring about balance and introducing a more diverse perspective and create synergies among the land uses and help to resolve land use conflicts.
  • Mainstreaming: The cascading nature of water means that water adaptation needs to be mainstreamed in sectoral policy areas. Adaptation mainstreaming – is to systematically include climate risk and adaptation considerations in decision-making and planning processes instead of only implementing ‘stand-alone’ adaptation measures. This requires more attention to water related policies in the entire water cycle, encompassing policies which provide resilience for several levels: and sectors, for example it also means acknowledging linkages across adaptation, mitigation, DRR and SDGs.


10:30-10:33AM: Welcome and introduction: Prof. Anthony Nyong, GCA Regional Director, Africa

10:34-10:39: Opening remarks: Prof. Dr. Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of GCA

10:40-11:30: Introduction to the STA21 report: Report Co-directors and GCA Senior Advisors Dr. Ede Jorge Ijjasz-Vasquez and Prof. Jamal Saghir

  • The report’s general findings on climate change projections, macro/finance.
  • Zoom in the role of water: How does water run through the report? What approaches are needed to address water management in Africa and elsewhere. What are the most important investment priorities in Africa on water?

  • IWRM and DRR: Managing land upstream for reducing water related risk downstream.
  • Water in drylands: Dryland agriculture – floods and droughts in drylands. How can we avoid conflict and migration? How do we reverse the degradation of land?
  • Water in urban areas, capturing urban water, urban water services, nature-based solutions, urban catchments, slums
  • Water-energy-food nexus
  • Financing adaptation in Africa – innovative mechanisms for water and nature-based solutions
  • Progress on mainstreaming water in Africa

10:40-11:55: Discussion and Q&A with the audience: facilitated by Prof. Nyong involving questions from audience to Dr. Ijjasz-Vasquez and Prof. Saghir

Special guests: Mrs. Portia Segomelo, Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM)
Mr. Joep Verhagen, GCA Water and Urban Program Lead, and Dr. Ase Johannessen, GCA Water Adaptation Community Facilitator, will provide additional insights.

11:50-11:55: The GWP Community of Practice, Mr. Alex Simalabwi, Global Water Partnership Southern Africa

11:55-12:00: Closing remarks