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Creating a collaborative platform for urban water resilience in Africa

Reos Partners
August, 2023

Discover how Reos Partners helped WRI and partners build a collaborative platform that aims to overcome water resilience challenges in Africa through research, providing technical assistance and leveraging collective action to improve the enabling environment for mature water resilience programs.


In 2022, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Reos Partners, with support from BMZ, embarked on a scoping process for the development of the 2030 Joint Agenda for Urban Water Resilience in Africa (Joint Agenda). 

The Joint Agenda was co-developed by a consortium of partners — including water sector stakeholders, practitioners/experts, and city and national partners — that aims to coordinate, align, harmonise and scale a diverse set of existing efforts, solutions and capacities into unique cooperative value add propositions. From this initiative came The African Cities Water Adaptation (ACWA) Platform. 

The challenge

Despite efforts at multiple levels, African cities continue to struggle to supply clean water to large populations. The issue of access to water has also contributed to most African cities being unable to achieve their sustainable development goals. In addition, water insecurity is being exacerbated by climate change and rapid unplanned urban expansion. In urban areas, the particularly concerning nature of this challenge is that despite existing infrastructure, access to clean water remains in short supply. Additionally, there are dozens of efforts to address these social challenges but very little effort to leverage collective efforts for impact.

WRI recognised that these converging challenges are major barriers to the achievement of the sustainable development goals in Africa, and believed that with the right vision, support and collaboration, cities in Africa have the potential to play a lead role in safeguarding their populations from water challenges resulting from rapid population growth, urbanisation and climate change.

Our approach

Reos supported WRI by bringing together diverse stakeholders in the sector to co-create the Joint Agenda and develop and support working groups that would enable the development of the initial ‘zero’ version of the Joint Agenda

From the working groups, the ACWA Platform was born and developed through deep engagement with a diverse group of institutions and individuals. The ACWA Platform was founded on a set of strategic priorities and principles, as identified in the 2030 Joint Agenda, and a strong call for implementation and was later successfully launched at COP27.


Today, the ACWA Platform, building on existing work in six African cities, partners with city champions to overcome water challenges through:

  • Research, planning and analysis on urban water resilience pathways
  • Providing technical assistance and capacity-building support to identify, design, finance and implement innovative solutions
  • Leveraging collective action to improve the enabling environment for mature water resilience programs.

The ACWA Platform is supported by the ACWA Fund, which acts as the key funding and financing instrument of the Platform, with the target of leveraging $5 billion to scale urban water resilience solutions to 100 African cities by 2032.

The work of the partners, supported by Reos, has built a strong foundation for accelerated impact in the urban water resilience space in Africa. It has also provided key insights and learnings regarding the development of such a Platform – one that can be adapted and scaled across the globe. 

The ACWA Platform is co-led by WRI Africa, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, WRI’s Water Program, African Centre for Cities, Akiba Mashinani Trust, Arup, Cap-Net UNDP, CDP, City of Johannesburg, City of Kigali, EiABC, Future Water Institute at UCT, GSMA, Haramaya University, ICLEI Africa, Musanze District, Practical Action, Resilient Cities Network, Rwanda Young Water Professionals, Stockholm International Water Institute, South African Cities Network, WaterAid, Water Partnership Rwanda, Water Integrity Network, Western Cape EDP, and Zutari and Reos Partners.

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