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Development Account Projects

Strengthening national capacities to adapt to climate change through improving management of water variability and other climate-driven changes in Africa


In the economies of many African States, development is constrained by growing water stress as well as variability of water resources. Both factors are expected to increase in the near future owing to climate change. Member States have requested the strong support of the United Nations for the building of national capacities to adapt national policies and local practices to deal with climate vulnerability in waterstressed areas. The proposed project aims to respond to this request.

Many African economies are dependent mainly on rain-fed agriculture and livestock management and therefore exhibit high dependence on rainfall variability and high vulnerability to extreme weather events such as floods and droughts.1 In those countries, events such as long droughts or long-term changes in climatic patterns have a critical impact on sustainable livelihoods of the resident population. Local water scarcity in Africa has been linked to poverty, land degradation, migration, and violent conflicts. Those difficulties are often compounded by the lack of suitable institutional structures, as well as the absence of data necessary to support evidencebased policymaking and to monitor strategy implementation.

Devising risk management and adaptation strategies well integrated with economic planning is critical to addressing vulnerability to weather and climate change. Many African countries are seeking improved planning tools and strengthened capacities to support livelihood strategies of their rural and urban communities. By providing the foundations for such instruments, this project will contribute to increase the likelihood of success of others' efforts for development and peace. The project will aim to bridge several gaps, concerning in particular: (a) the knowledge that Governments and other relevant stakeholders have of the impact of water scarcity and variability on the national and local economies; (b) the ways in which crosscutting consequences of environmental or climate change, such as poverty, migrations or the organization of agricultural production systems, are taken into account and integrated into mainstream economic planning, sector development plans and investment decisions; (c) the institutional mechanisms currently in place to share and disseminate that knowledge, including to gather information on ongoing changes affecting local weather conditions and production systems (bottom-up) and conversely to ensure that adequate responses are given in due time to locally unsustainable trajectories (top-down).


To strengthen the capacity of African countries confronted with high water variability and stress from climate change to better integrate and adapt national and local development strategies and practices, thereby increasing the likelihood of sustainable development and peace.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Increased knowledge of the relationships between water resources variability (e.g., prolonged droughts and extreme floods) and the resilience of local/basin level/national economic systems and raising awareness of decision makers of new needs for innovative responses for improved management of water variability and other climate-driven changes within four selected water-stressed countries
  • Increased understanding and ability of targeted high-level policymakers and universities of African countries to develop and implement a capacity-development approach with multiplier effects for self-adaptation to water variability for each of the four African water-stressed subregions: North Africa, Sahel, Eastern Africa and Southern Africa
  • Increased awareness and cooperation among national training institutions capable of producing scalable methodologies and training material to support adaptation to higher water variability at all geographical levels

Implementation status: