Water and climate change

Since its inception two years ago, ACPC has continued to champion the generation and sharing of knowledge on climate change as relates to the water sector. Within its mandate of carrying out analytical work, under the umbrella of ClimDev-Africa programme, ACPC brings together various players such as senior African experts in identifying and addressing gaps in research, information as well as capacity of the African climate observation infrastructure.

The ACPC engages with regional economic blocs (RECs), governments and institutions in its field work. Numerous country and regional level projects are currently underway. These include assessments of the impact of climate change on water resources and review of existing hydrological observation networks. In addition, significant work is going on in relation to rescue of historical hydro-metrological data, assessment of ground water sustainability and convening of important regional events.

Below is a synopsis of the work that ACPC is currently undertaking in relation to climate change and water:
Upgrading hydrological observation networks, data and information in pilot countries

The Gambia
The principal focus of the Gambia project is on development and management of planning capacity in the public sector based on the request for support by the Gambia Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs. Also participating are UN organizations led by the UNDP country office. The targeted outcomes include promotion of socio-economic development, fostering of regional integration and promotion of international cooperation. The main objective of the project is to improve the hydrological observation networks in the country, data rescuing and improving management and capacity of the water sector. The specific objectives of the project are to (i) upgrade and rehabilitate the hydrological observation stations by purchasing and installing new equipment for the hydrological synoptic stations (ii) recovery of existing data and (iii) building of strong human capacity in the country.

As such, the hydrological programme areas include:

  1. Baseline situation analysis of existing networks, data and information systems and evaluation of needed improvements
  2. Design improved data network system
  3. Tools and methods
  4. Capacity building and dissemination

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) in additional is working with ACPC to assess the country’s hydrological and meteorological observation network, with the aim of establishing an effective early warning system in the Gambia.

The overall objective of the proposed project is to provide investment and technical support to improve the hydrological observation and data management systems in Ethiopia to contribute to the country’s effort to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change.
In consultation with the hydrology and water quality directorate of Ministry of Water and Energy (MoWE) and based on gaps identified by a previously published report on status of hydrological observation systems in Ethiopia, the following four specific objectives are identified:

  1. To upgrade and expand hydrological observing systems for selected stations. 
  2. Develop and upgrade hydrological data management and information systems for enhanced decision making in various water related sectors. 
  3. Build capacity in Hydrology. 
  4. Capacity enhancement in energy policy and Climate Resilience and Green Economy (CRGE). 

The overall objective of the proposed project is to provide investment and technical support to improve the hydrological observation and data management systems in Rwanda in order to contribute to the country’s effort to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change.
In consultation with the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) and Integrated Water Resources Management and Development (IWRMD) of the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA), the following 5 specific objectives are identified:

  1. Baseline situation analysis of the existing hydrological networks, database and information management.
  2. To upgrade and expand hydrological observation systems for selected stations. 
  3. Develop and upgrade hydrological data management and information systems for enhanced decision making in various water related sectors. 
  4. Risk and vulnerability assessment.
  5. Capacity building.

A preliminary assessment on potential areas for support to Zambia was carried out in mid-2012. Based on surveys carried out in the ministries of transport, works, supply and communication; ministry of water and energy, and presentation of the ground water information system and management programs, the ACPC documented potential needs and gaps that exist, with a focus on the hydro-meteorological aspect of climate change response.

Project: Impact of climate change on Africa’s Water and Infrastructure

Many countries in Africa are realizing growth in their economies. A key ingredient required for Africa’s attainment of its development aspiration is the rapid upgrading of the region’s infrastructure, which is at present inadequate. US$ 93 billion per year is needed for the next decade if Africa is to fill the infrastructure gap. Much of this investment will support the construction of long-life infrastructure (e.g. dams, roads, power stations, etc), which will thus need to be capable of delivering services both under current and future climate. And yet, relatively little is known on how climate change may affect the desirable design, location, timing, and composition of the stock of infrastructure that will need to be built in the short to medium term. A better understanding of the range of climate impacts on infrastructure development, and of the approach to deal with climate uncertainty, is thus necessary in order to inform future investment decisions and to avoid locking Africa in a pattern of climate-vulnerable development that will be costly.

The objectives of this study are:

  1. To quantify the impacts of climate change on the performance of network infrastructure in the water, power pool, and transport sectors in Africa.
  2. To identify, demonstrate and cost robust adaptation approaches for planning, evaluating and designing specific infrastructure investments in the face of climate uncertainty.
  3. To formulate actionable recommendations for policy makers on how to enhance the climate resilience of infrastructure development in the sectors of inquiry, and mobilize the required resources.

Research question
Assuming no adaptation, what is the range of deviations (over different climate scenarios), of the selected infrastructures’ objective variables, compared to plausible development targets, that climate change would cause?

What is the cost of reducing, across as many climate scenarios as possible, the risk that investment in the infrastructure sectors of inquiry may be inadequate to the climate of the future (in terms of size, setting, or design)?

Project steering
Raffaello Cervigni (World Bank), Vivien Foster (World Bank), Seleshi Bekele Awulachew(ACPC)

Project duration
May 2012 - February 2013

Congo, Niger, Nile, Orange, Senegal, Volta and Zambezi


  1. Documents on the impact of climate change on African infrastructure have been collected.
  2. A workshop on African Infrastructure & Climate Change Study, and Preparation of the Africa Climate Risk Management & Green Growth Project was held 23-25 May, 2012, UNECA, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  3. Consultant on analytical work assigned

Climate information packaging for all sensitive sectors and end users

Cote d’Ivoire
The Government of Côte d’Ivoire has prepared a National Development Plan (NDP) for 2012-2015 which has a central objective of reducing poverty. The country is also drafting a climate change mitigation and adaptation programme document, with an ambition to extend the programme to the West African region.
In the recent past, officials from Côte d’Ivoire have closely consulted with the ECA in general and ACPC in particular, and a work programme covering the country’s needs in line with its development objectives is being drafted as follows:

  1. Strengthening science, technology, innovation and research base; and 
  2. Establishing an effective climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy.

Due to the science and technology component, ACPC has been working together with the Infrastructure Science and Technology Division (ISTD) of ECA for provision of support to Cote d’Ivoire.

The climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy will be realized through:

  1. Feasibility study on the establishment of a sub-regional climate change and innovation research center
  2. Establishment of a national meteorological framework
  3. Guidance on establishment of an entity to coordinate climate change strategy
  4. Hydrological and meteorological data collection, rescue and management capacity enhancement

Dialogue on concerted groundwater management in West Africa
Opening regional space for groundwater dialogue is one of the most crucial steps for a comprehensive trans-boundary aquifer management, in which institutional arrangements and policies can play a central role.
A diagnostic study on trans-boundary aquifers management and policy dialogue in West African regions has been recently carried out with the support of the ACPC and other regional institutions such as the Global Water Partnership-West Africa (GWP-WA). Policy recommendations from the diagnostic study and the regional consultation workshop have been documented into a policy brief for the guidance of regional and international stakeholders. ACPC envisage the replication of the West African experience to other regions.

Support to platforms

Africa Water Week
The Africa Water Week represents a political commitment at the highest level where governments, regional institutions, international partners, the private sector, the scientific community, civil society and the media from all other the world, and in particular Africa, meet to discuss and collectively seek solutions to Africa’s water and sanitation challenges. During the 4th African Water Week held from the 14th to 18th of May, 2012 in Cairo, under the auspices of African Ministerial Council on Water (AMCOW) and UN-Water Africa, ACPC co-convened a session on Climate Change Implication on Water Resources and Infrastructures in Africa.