Urban Water Resilience Initiative Africa

Our multi-city program that supports cities with their building urban resilience plans.

Led by the World Resources Institute (WRI) in partnership with R-Cities and other global partners, the Urban Water Resilience Initiative is working with city leaders in Africa to identify the shocks and stresses threatening their cities’ water systems, prioritizing resilient solutions in future plans. The initiative aims to establish a framework for ambitious, accountable, and coordinated action to ensure urban water resilience impact at scale.

The Challenge

Growing cities across the world face the shared challenge of providing reliable, adequate, and high quality water services for all. However, the scale and complexity of this need presents new challenges to decision makers in government, civil society and the private sector. Particularly, city leaders in Africa face converging challenges of extending water and sanitation services for rapidly growing and urbanizing populations, managing watershed risks often largely outside city jurisdictions, and designing for climate resilience.

Program Approach

The Urban Water Resilience Initiative in Africa was designed using the City Water Resilience Approach (CWRA), which was developed with R-Cities member cities and partners to respond to a demand for innovative approaches and tools that help cities build water resilience at the urban scale.

The initiative has also been driving conversations among actors active in urban water systems across Africa towards a 2030 Joint Agenda for Urban Water Resilience. The joint agenda is co-developed by a growing consortium of partners aiming to coordinate, align, harmonize and scale a diverse set of existing efforts, solutions and capacities into unique cooperative value add propositions. By COP27, the initiative aims to have a set of endorsed urban water resilience principles and priorities backed by governments, cities, NGOs, and the private sector in Africa.

Finally, the initiative is working with African partners to develop a catalytic fund for urban water resilience. The African Cities Water Adaptation Fund (ACWA Fund) uses an integrated approach to finance innovative urban water resilience solutions at scale.


The initiative is led by WRI Africa, the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, the WRI Water Program and many African and global partners including R-Cities , Arup, the African Center for Cities, ICLEI Africa, WaterAid, CAP-NET UNDP, South African Cities Network (SACN), Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT), Future Water Institute at UCT, Ethiopian Institute of Architecture Building Construction and City Development (EiABC), Rwanda Young Water Professionals (RYWP), Harmaya University, Zutari, Bantu Design, Water Partnership Rwanda, City of Kigali, Musanze District, City of Johannesburg, Addis Ababa Water & Sewerage Authority, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs South Africa, and Ministry of Infrastructure Rwanda.

Participating Cities

The initiative is currently working with city stakeholders to implement the CWRA in six cities:

Addis Ababa

Dire Dawa





R-Cities is supporting the initiative’s implementation in Addis Ababa, Kigali and Johannesburg.  To date, the initiative has developed City Characterization Reports for Addis Ababa, Kigali and Johannesburg and has published a City Water Resilience Profile and Action Plan for Addis Ababa and Kigali. The action plans for the rest of the cities are on their way to being finalized.

Program Resources

Kigali Water Resilience Profile

The Kigali Water Resilience Profile represents an opportunity to continue regional efforts to build resilience capacity and explore strategies, through multiple lenses, to improve the water security of the region. The actions identified provide a foundational architecture upon which stakeholders can build upon by means of policies, projects, and continued coordinated work. The insights generated from this approach will ultimately help to protect the lives and health and well-being of the region’s inhabitants and environmental assets.

Addis Ababa Water Resilience Profile

Addis Ababa’s economy is growing as the city is undergoing a rapid urban transformation. City leaders recognize that the city needs to not only build its capacity to respond and recover from water-related shocks and stresses but also change its relationship with water to create an environment for the city to thrive. 

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