The AfriAlliance Needs & Solutions Hub in a nutshell
Facilitating interactions amongst stakeholders to generate and share water and climate knowledge and innovation is a core goal of AfriAlliance. To promote this exchange, the AfriAlliance Needs & Solutions Hub brings together many water and climate-related needs of African stakeholders, and matches them with existing, innovative solutions. Here, customers can search for solutions to their needs and solutions providers can identify needs that could benefit from their solutions.
Identifying needs - but how?
Identifying needs is sometimes easier said than done, customers often cannot easily define the specific product or service that they need. This is even more so in the field of complex water and climate-related problems. The AfriAlliance team therefore built on the Value Proposition Canvas (VPC) (Osterwalder et al., 2014), which had been developed to better understand customer needs. AfriAlliance adapted this approach from individual to organisational level and to climate change impacts on water resources, especially in African contexts. This adapted VPC focuses organisational tasks that are either triggered or affected by Climate Change, the main obstacles organisations are facing during such tasks (pains) and the improved outcomes they are trying to achieve (gains).
The needs-related content of the Hub was collated by the AfriAlliance partners in a combined top-down and bottom-up approach. The top-down approach reviewed knowledge needs expressed in calls for proposals, policy documents and strategic agendas. The bottom-up approach complemented this, by using the adjusted VPC approach in workshops, interviews and online surveys to identify needs at local level in interactions with >130 African stakeholders from 36 countries.
To date, needs were identified from African River Basin Organisations (RBOs), Water Utilities (WUs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in ‘organisation profiles’. These insights reveal the range of gaps and needs of water managing organisations in African contexts that have to be addressed. An overarching demand appears to be to strengthen the knowledge and capacity base to conceive the implications of climate change for specific organisational activities and tasks, and their related ‘pains’ and ‘gains’.
Featuring the many solutions that already exist
Many ideas, solutions and innovations for addressing water and climate-related challenges already exist, including on the African continent. Based on the needs that AfriAlliance had identified, corresponding solutions were sourced via the AfriAlliance network-of-networks. The captured solutions were assessed by mapping their characteristics in terms of which customer task(s) it is supporting, the obstacles that customers face during their tasks and improved outcomes they would like to achieve, and how the solution helps address these. Using the solution characteristics and the organisation profiles, solutions could be matched to an organisation type and then to the specific needs of the organisation. Following this matching process, the identified needs and solutions were uploaded to the AfriAlliance Needs & Solutions Hub. The design of the interface of the AfriAlliance Needs & Solutions Hub was inspired by interactions with the team behind the WaterWindow, a Dutch matching site for innovations in water management, and with which AfriAlliance has an MoU.
Creating an ever-growing pool of knowledge on water and climate needs & solutions
The portfolio of specific needs on the AfriAlliance Needs & Solutions Hub provides the ‘supply side’ of water innovation - such as entrepreneurs, industry players, researchers and scientists - with an outlook of opportunities to apply their research and innovation efforts, results and solutions to the specific water-related needs of African stakeholders that arise in the context of climate change.
In the longer run, the ambition is to enhance the Hub and include the needs of other African stakeholders, especially water users, in the AfriAlliance Needs & Solutions hub, along with other, emerging solutions. This will help create an ever-growing pool of knowledge on water and climate-related needs and solutions, especially for African contexts.
The AfriAlliance Needs & Solutions Hub is interactive, so customers and solution providers can submit their specific needs and solutions to the Hub: