Akvo phone demostration

AfriAlliance Newsletter no. 2

  • INBO Edouard Boinet
    Edouard Boinet
    Project Manager - International Cooperation

19 April 2017

Dear reader,

In March, AfriAlliance reached an important milestone: the inaugural launch conference of AfriAlliance on the African continent. This newsletter presents a digest of the diverse and interactive conference sessions - one of which made 8 presenters take turns to stand on a table to pitch for the audience’s attention!

Set up in the AfriAlliance spirit of stimulating knowledge sharing and collaboration between African and European networks and stakeholders in Water and Climate, the AfriAlliance launch conference was hosted by the LoCS4Africa Water & Climate Congress 2017 in Ekurhulenin, South Africa. Opened on World Water Day 2017, the event saw 400 delegates from 40 countries, including 40 Mayors and 150 city representatives, who enjoyed 3 days of interactions. Many thanks to those of you who attended!

As the project is entering its second year, the conference was also a unique opportunity for the AfriAlliance team to hear how we can shape the future activities of AfriAlliance: helping us to support African stakeholders even better in their efforts to deal with current and future climate change challenges.

The conference kick started the bottom up process for identifying themes for the next call for AfriAlliance Action Groups – this call will be launched in 2018, so stay tuned.

As AfriAlliance has another 4 years to go with its activities, this conference was merely the start – read our full newsletter and find out about upcoming AfriAlliance events in Africa.

Read further for details - for daily updates, follow us on Twitter @AfriAlliance1.

All the best,

Uta Wehn

About AfriAlliance

The Africa-EU Innovation Alliance for Water and Climate (AfriAlliance), is a 5-year project funded by the European Union’s H2020 Research and Innovation Programme. It aims to improve African preparedness for climate change challenges by stimulating knowledge sharing and collaboration between African and European stakeholders.
The kick-off meeting of AfriAlliance was organized in Delft (The Netherlands) on the 2nd and 3rd March 2016, at UNESCO-IHE headquarters. It gave EU and African AfriAlliance partners the opportunity to meet face-to-face, exchange ideas and to plan the first year of the project in detail. All 16 consortium partners were present:


Upcoming Events: Meet AfriAlliance Partners!

The African Great Lakes Conference: "Conservation and development in a changing climate"
(Entebbe, UGANDA, 2-5 May 2017)

AfriAlliance participation in this international conference will include the organization of a third Workshop on “Social innovation needs in water and climate: regional priorities in Africa”. The main objective of this side-event is to identify a list of concrete social innovation demands in need of technological and non-technological solutions to address Climate Change impacts and water related issues. The workshop will gather an audience of around 20 people with a wide range of different profiles (scientists, conservation practitioners, resource managers, etc.), given the diversity of participants to this international conference: representatives from national agencies in charge of water management, basin Organizations and other lake basin management groups of the region’s major lakes (Lake Albert, Lake Edward, Lake Kivu, Lake Malawi/Nyasa/Niassa, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Turkana and Lake Victoria), multi-lateral agencies, academic institutions, the private sector and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

The conference is the first of its kind in close to twenty years. The event is organized by The Nature Conservancy in partnership with the government of Uganda and the support of a long list of partners including the International Network of Basin Organizations (INBO). It aims to link science and best practices to solutions for conservation and sustainable development of the African Great Lakes region in a changing climate. Spanning 850,000 km2 of ecosystems which sustain more than 50 million people in parts of 12 countries, the region boasts high biological diversity, yet faces critical challenges to human and lake health, all within the context of a changing climate. It will bring together local and regional perspectives on the following six themes:

  • Climate Change Impacts,
  • Mitigation, Adaptation, and Resilience,
  • Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity Benefits,
  • Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Management,
  • Population Dynamics, Health, and the Environment,
  • Balancing Conservation and Development,
  • Basin Governance and Financing.

For more information about the conference, and to sign up to receive updates, visit the African Great Lakes conference website http://www.greatlakesofafrica.org/ or contact Dr. Modesta Medard: modesta.medard@tnc.org.

WaterNet Symposium (Swakopmund, NAMIBIA, 25-27 October 2017)

The AfriAlliance partner WaterNet will hold its 18th annual Symposium on the 25th-27th October 2017 in Swakopmund, Namibia. It will focus on the topic of “Integrated Water Resources Development and Management: Innovative Technological Advances for Water Security in Eastern and Southern Africa”. It will be jointly convened by the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) and the Namibian Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. The event’s first call for abstract has just been issued and can be found here: http://www.waternetonline.org/download//data/download/00000172/Symposium18-First-Call-for-Abstracts-1.pdf

Other AfriAlliance partners will participate and the AfriAlliance Action Group A4A -Arid African Alluvial Aquifers for Agriculture (Lead by: Mekelle University, Ethiopia), will organize its own meeting back-to-back with the Symposium.

First AfriAlliance Conference: a Digest

First AfriAlliance Conference (Ekurhuleni, SOUTH AFRICA, 22-24 March 2017)

The first AfriAlliance Conference was held from 22-24 March 2017 in Ekurhuleni (near Johannesburg), South-Africa, and served as the inaugural meeting of the AfriAlliance innovation alliance in Africa. The AfriAlliance Conference was hosted by ICLEI’s Local Climate Solutions for Africa (LoCS4Africa) 2017 Congress (for more information about the conference, visit the conference website: http://locs4africa.iclei.org/). LoCS4Africa 2017 Congress gathered around 400 participants from 40 different countries, including 40 mayors and 150 city representatives, and started on World Water Day 2017 with the endorsement of the Declaration on Water and Sanitation for Cities.

Inaugural Launch of the AfriAlliance Conference (22 March, 14:30 - 15:30) 

The AfriAlliance has been launched on the African continent on 22 March 2017! This Africa-EU Innovation Alliance is bridging climate change and water-related needs with potential innovative solutions.

The session was chaired and opened by the AfriAlliance Project Director Dr. Uta Wehn. It included inspiring interventions from three keynote speakers. Ms. Carmen Mena Abela (Head of H2020 Eco-Innovation Sector, European Commission) presented the European Union instruments for research and innovation focused on water and climate and expressed its support for the AfriAlliance project. Ms. Barbara Schreiner (Executive Director, Pegasys Institute) reminded the audience that addressing water and climate challenges also means addressing development and poverty reduction and that mobilising existing capacity is crucial. Dr. Mandlenkosi Msibi (Group Executive Innovation & Impact, Water Research Commission) expressed the need to boost innovation through networking and Public-Private-Partnerships and knowledge sharing to address these challenges.

At the end of the conference, the AfriAlliance consortium partners (UNESCO-IHE, WE&B, OIEau, WaterNet, ITC UT, INBO, ICLEI, AfWa, Akvo, CSIR, BothEnds, 2iE, WASCAL, WRC) went on stage to introduce themselves and express what the AfriAlliance project means to them.


Showcasing initiatives in Africa (22 March, 16:00 - 17:30) 


The first day of the AfriAlliance Launch Conference was concluded with a highly interactive session showcasing different African initiatives touching upon the themes of water and climate. Kicking off the session, eight presenters were asked to “pitch” their initiative in just only one minute to attract the attention of the audience and to invite them to participate in the more detailed presentation and discussion. Then, the audience had the opportunity to join three rounds of presentations in this carousel styled session. 
The following initiatives were showcased:

  • Technology Approval Group (TAG) project: In the last ten years Isle Utilities has worked on innovation platforms with Water Utilities to jointly develop innovative technologies. Now they are starting in Africa.
  • WACDEP: GWP and AMCOW joined forces to implement a programme for Water and Climate involving a number of countries (23) and river basins (8) in Africa.
  • SAFEWATER Africa: Funded by the H2020 programme, a decentralised system for rural areas is developed by African partners, incorporating capacity building and involvement of local communities.
  • WADER: With a strong emphasis on the need for innovative solutions addressing the challenges of the water sector, the project demonstrates a number of technologies in the pipeline for Africa.
  • VICINAQUA: This project focuses on wastewater treatment, as well as power and energy, including social aspects and gender equality.
  • WATERSPOUTT: The project develops a next generation of water technologies such as providing water at household level by solar disinfection.
  • MADFORWATER: While water contamination is a challenge, as is water security and integrated water resources management, there are also huge resources not addressed, such as treated water resources and reclaimed water. Eleven technologies are tested with different aspects and four pilots in different parts of Africa.
  • WATERFUND: Focussing on the way which urban area managed water supply will determine development, innovative long term solutions.

Wrapping up the session, the presenters were asked to share their most important insights that came from their interactions with the audience, namely  i) that capacity development is an essential component of all projects and ii) that technology alone will not help solve water and climate challenges. Successful projects will therefore need to find ways to address the social dimensions involved in implementing technological solutions.


Smart Solution for Water and Climate (23 March, 09:00 - 10:30) 


Monitoring of water is crucial to ensure and improve its availability and quality. This showcase session focused on Smart Water Management in Africa. It addressed water and climate monitoring and mapping with the help of mobile devices, tools, sensors and satellites. Akvo presented several of its tools for both qualitative and quantitative monitoring of water data (including the use of smartphones), and how they are currently applied to monitor the drought in Ethiopia. Akvo also did a live demonstration of its latest water quality monitoring tool called “Akvo Caddisfly”.

Mobile Water Management introduced lessons learnt from the use of smartphone for monitoring in two pilot projects: a water catchment in the Netherlands and the VIA Water Mozambique.
The session demonstrated the potential of smartphones to improve the geospatial monitoring of water resources in a cost-effective manner but discussions also highlighted the need to address the context and the incentives for the uptake of these technologies.


Monitoring and forecasting efforts and hands-on geodata catalog service (23 March, 11:00 - 12:30) 

This AfriAlliance workshop, hosted by ITC UT and UNESCO-IHE, introduced its participants to methods for monitoring and forecasting efforts in relation to water and climate challenges. These methods aim to give a rapid and up-to-date information outlook on the status of water resources in a user-selected region of interest. They build upon the triple sensor approach developed by AfriAlliance, whereby water and climate data from three independent sources are geospatially collocated: space-based (satellites), in-situ hydro-meteorological station observation networks and local ground information (incl. citizen observatories).

The event included hands-on practical and interactive exercises: using their laptops and with the support and guidance of ITC UT and UNESCO-IHE, the participants learned how to use the Geodata portal and how to upload links to and metadata about their own water and climate information to this web service.


Help share the future activities of AfriAlliance (23 March, 13:30 - 14:30) 

The AfriAlliance project is undertaking various activities with the overall goal of better preparing African stakeholders for future climate change challenges: enhancing knowledge sharing among African and EU networks in water and climate, identifying innovation needs and solutions and demonstrating and piloting small scale solutions; including solutions for monitoring and forecasting. In this interactive session, the AfriAlliance Project Director Dr. Uta Wehn invited participants to provide their inputs and feedbacks to help shape how AfriAlliance will implement these activities over the coming 4 years. How can we tailor these activities to local settings and demands? What should the priorities be? How could we motivate African and European stakeholders?

Gathering the audience's views via an online game, the results were discussed by a panel of partner organizations: the Water Research Commission, ICLEI Africa, Akvo, CSIR and Waternet. There was consensus that the emphasis of AfriAlliance activities should be on the identification innovation needs as well as of innovative solutions, as summed-up by Mrs. Kobie Brand (ICLEI-Africa): “For us, the most useful thing is the identification of concrete solutions”.

Preparing for climate change: new data streams, education and multi stakeholder interactions (23 March, 14:30 - 16:00) 

This session, with evidence from Zambia, Kenya, Ghana and Burkina Faso, showcased a range of initiatives to better prepare for climate change. Aqualinks presented the project TAHMO (Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory), which combines climate monitoring with climate education by building weather stations at schools across Africa. It has been strengthening the network of weather monitoring stations for a sixth of the average cost in seven African countries.

UNESCO-IHE presented the project Ground Truth 2.0, which sets up 6 demonstration cases of ‘citizen observatories’ enabling citizens (and not just scientists) to share data about their environment and to take on a new role in decision making.

The International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering (2iE) presented its study of the impact of inadequate sanitation on flooding occurrence in Ouagadougou and advocated for the inclusion of future climate scenarios in sanitation and water services planning.

At the end of these presentations, the audience was divided into breakout groups to discuss how these three initiatives could be improved.


Showcasing the AfriAlliance Action Groups (23 March, 16:30 - 18:00) 

The session chaired by David Smith from WE&B started with a definition of what the AfriAlliance Action Groups are. These are basically AfriAlliance working groups based on a Community of practice approach. They receive support from AfriAlliance, through seed-money and outreach opportunities, to assist in identifying and addressing water and climate vulnerabilities at a more local level approach. A first set of 5 Action Groups have been selected and launched in September 2016, after the assessment of more than 120 applications. Two of these action groups participated in this AfriAlliance session to showcase their respective activities and progress.

The Ethiopian Institute of Water Resources -EIWR introduced the Action Group “Efficient and Innovative Small Scale Irrigation”. It is conducting assessment of existing small scale irrigation techniques (in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania), identification of the farmers’ needs, selection of new appropriate irrigation techniques and pilot projects to test these techniques and train the farmers so that they can master them. The challenges of implementation were mentioned and included limited funding and difficulty to conduct separate assessment in the three pilot countries.

The project of “Upscaling Potential of Water Harvesting Across Africa”, led by the Wageningen University, has also been presented. It aims the production of a high resolution map of the potential of water harvesting in Africa.

The Mekelle University is coordinating the Action Group “Arid African Alluvial Aquifers for Agriculture” which will share experiences from three African regions (West Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa) on use of shallow alluvial aquifers for agriculture and improve practices.

This Action Group “SIRAF” stands for “Sustainable Intensification for Resilience and Food Security”. Its leader, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), aims to assess and improve the current level of Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture (SIA), through study and pilot projects. Indicators are being developed to carry out the assessment.

The Rhodes University presented the Action Group it leads: “Integrated Water Resource Management and Ethics”. This Action Group considers the trade-off required between different ethical values that command IWRM implementation in any given context. It adopts the Systemic-Relational Perspective (SRP), according to which we need to integrate human and ecological components when planning IWRM. It uses SRP to critically analyze IWRM case studies, develops knowledge and strategy for the implementation of an ethically-grounded IWRM and shares its experience with stakeholders and policy-makers.


Setting the themes for new AfriAlliance Action Groups (24 March, 09:00 - 10:30) 

This workshop hosted by WE&B aimed at contributing to define the themes of the next round of AfriAlliance Action Groups, to be issued in Spring 2018.

WE&B introduced to what the Action Groups are and the current status of their activities. The audience was the, divided into breakout groups with one objective: to establish a list of priority topics that the next call for Action Groups should target. Each group had the opportunity to discuss 4 broad themes and to define their respective priority topics. For instance, for the “agricultural and rural” theme, it was stressed out that there is a need to work on the development of information relevant to the farmers’ work on irrigation and planning (e.g. weather monitoring networks, water information systems, projections on future scenarios for climate change, demography, water availability), on communication to the farmers for the joint adaptation of innovative technologies to their specific context and on training of farmers capacity to implement best practices (crop selection, soil conservation, groundwater exploitation). These valuable inputs are key to ensure that the themes for the next call for Action Group are the results of a bottom-up approach.

Sustainable WaSH in the age of climate change (24 March, 09:00 - 10:30) 

How does climate change impact water, sanitation and hygiene services? This session provided a comprehensive answer to this question and presented innovative solutions to adapt these services to a changing climate. AfWA introduced the event with an overview of the consequences of climate change in the African water sector. It mapped-out existing funding channels for mitigation and adaptation to climate change but also noted the limited capacities of African countries to access climate change funds.

Ps-Eau presented case studies from West Africa on the impacts that climate change can have on WaSH infrastructures, on water supply services as well as on sanitation services and presented the recommendations drawn from these case studies.
The University of Cagliari reported on the methodology of a project focusing on the development of de-fluoridation technologies for water quality management in a changing climate along the East African Rift Valley: The “ FLOWERED” project funded by the EU commission under the H2020 initiative.


Bridging the innovation development gap (24 March, 11:00 - 12:30) 


The workshop addressed the “innovation chasm” for water innovations in an interactive setting that engaged speakers and participants in questions and answers exchanges. It ignited vivid discussions around key questions such as: how can we create enabling environments for technology transfer and “soft” technologies? How do we increase the support for applied research, technology demonstration and market development? And what partnership and small, medium & micro enterprises opportunities do these provide? The workshop was hosted by the Water Research Commission (WRC) and included contributions from Namibia Water Corporation Ltd (NamWater), African Center for Green Economy, Technology Innovation Agency (Zimbabwe).


Urban rivers: linking to the lost opportunities (24 March, 11:00 - 12:30) 

This interactive session was convened by Aqualinks and Fourth Element Consulting with the aim of exploring various challenges experienced by Urban rivers in South Africa.

Dr Stuart Dunsmore spoke about finding solutions to Africa’s rapidly growing urban water needs.  Storm water and the aspects faced by planners of modern African Human Settlements included rapid expansion of informal residential areas, establishment of informal trading areas and pressure on water, solid waste and drainage services. If thSese issues are not addressed, it may lead to socio-economic factors that can affect the urban areas and communities at large. Dr Ir. Marieke de Groen talked about the simplified checklist for impact of interventions on physical aspects. The checklist comprised of 5 things namely: impact on system, litter/debris , water quality , normal low flows and floods.

Questions were asked in relation to urban rivers and the answers were (pollution, finances, institutional set up, security, floodplain and encroatchment and others). The fIrst question asked : What is the biggest challenge in making our urban rivers function normally? Participants highlighted that pollution is the biggest challenge because a polluted environment means a myriad of diseases and this makes it difficult to achieve the SDG 1.  The easiest to solve was institutional set up, because institutions  can work together with one common goal to achieve their set targets. One burning issue was about funds (finances), in that people should not always depend on funding, rather the small amounts available can make a big impact.

Partner News

Get to know... ICLEI

What is ICLEI?

ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability is the world’s oldest and largest network of cities, with over 1,500 cities, towns and regions committed to building a sustainable urban future. We work with a wide range of cities and other sub-national governments in over 85 countries, impacting over 25% of the global urban population.
ICLEI envisions a world of sustainable cities that confront the realities of urbanization, adapt to economic and demographic trends and prepare for the impacts of climate change and other urban challenges. This is why ICLEI unites local and subnational governments in creating positive change through collective learning, exchange and capacity building.
At ICLEI Africa, we serve our African members from our offices based in Cape Town, South Africa, where we work with cities and regions across 23 sub-Saharan African countries. We have a specific focus on urban planning, infrastructure, water and sanitation, climate change and energy, and nature-based solutions.

ICLEI, organizer of LoCS4Africa 2017 and host of AfriAlliance

On World Water Day 2017 ICLEI Africa in partnership with the City of Ekurhuleni hosted the Local Climate Solutions for Africa (LoCS4Africa) Water & Climate Congress. The three day event was ICLEI’s 4th pan-Africa LoCS congress and brought together 400 registered delegates, 40 Mayor’s and heads of government, 150 city representatives, experts and delegations from over 53 countries to seek local solutions for African Cities under the theme ‘Water for Cities’.
The African continent faces many sustainability challenges; but none more critical than the threat posed to the continent’s water resources, exacerbated by climate change, burgeoning human populations, aging and inadequate infrastructure, lack of strong urban planning frameworks and uncertain economic development trajectories. The LoCS4Africa 2017 Congress was a solutions driven platform that brought together the diversity of African cities and united them and their partners in a common mission to collectively take action towards addressing our most pressing urban water challenges, from flooding and drought, infrastructure, sanitation and associated quality of life and health challenges.
The LoCS4Africa 2017 Congress also provided the host platform for the Inaugural Launch Conference of AfriAlliance: ‘Africa-EU Innovation Alliance for Water and Climate’ project. AfriAlliance is an ambitious 5-year project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, to get Africa better prepared to meet climate change challenges. The AfriAlliance launch served as the inaugural meeting of the AfriAlliance Innovation Alliance on the African Continent. Further, it provided the opportunity to present the AfriAlliance Action Groups and their areas of focus; showcase African research, innovation, policy and capacity development initiatives that are looking for European partners and vice versa; and provide the opportunity to obtain inputs and suggestions for further shaping AfriAlliance’s activities.

For more information on the Local Climate Solutions for Africa (LoCS4Africa) Congress or ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability-Africa please contact Tarryn Quayle, tarryn.quayle@iclei.or, (+27) 021 202 0385.


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