African leaders talk water for cities at Locs4Africa 2017

ARTICLE-1MAINThe LoCS4Africa 2017 congress kicked off on a high note on World Water Day, 22 March. With over 400 registered delegates, 40 Mayors and 150 city representatives from 40 different countries, aims to stimulate engagement and strategic discussions around solutions to water challenges in African cities amid climate uncertainties.

The event was officiated with a welcome address from the mayor of the host City of Ekurhuleni, Mzwandile Masina.

Masina set out the agenda of the congress as a platform to foster collaboration among African cities. He said cities should preserve natural resources such as water, and should mitigate the effects of climate change.

Professor Coleen Vogel of the Global Change & Sustainability Research Institute (GCSRI) at The University of the Witwatersrand gave scientific weight to the goals of the congress. She emphasised the importance of collaboration within cities, and using societal learning to solve water challenges in cities.

Following Human Rights Day in South Africa on 21 March, Lord Mayor Isaya Mwita of the Dar es Salaam City Council expressed the importance of policy implementation as a means to provide the human right to clean water in cities.

MAIN-GRAPHICDeputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Mr Andries Nel, also emphasised human rights in welcoming delegates from all the African countries represented at the congress: “As government we condemn any violence against our African brothers and sisters. You are welcome in South Africa,” he said.

In her absence, Minister Edna Molewa of the South African Department of Environmental Affairs said South Africa acknowledges that cities play a critical role in managing the impacts of climate change.

“There has never been a more relevant and opportune moment for a pan-African initiative such as this one to move from dialogue to action, all the while supporting innovation, providing real-time solutions [and] unpacking emerging trends,” she said in a written statement.

Having hosted the previous LoCS4Africa conference in the City of Ethekwini, Councillor Mondli Mthembu said this year’s conference is timely given the current prolonged drought in South Africa. The United Nations World Water Day Summit 2017 is taking place in that city concurrently; both meetings are mutually supportive of one another’s aims and outcomes regarding water for cities.  

Over the next three days, researchers, urban planners, local authorities, financiers and other stakeholders hope to establish and strengthen partnerships during a rich programme and through networking sessions.  One of the major outcomes of LoCS4Africa 2017 has already been achieved on the first day: the launch of the Ekurhuleni Declaration on Water and Sanitation for Cities, which will soon be presented to the African Union and the United Nations.





LoCS4Africa launches Ekurhuleni Declaration on Water and Sanitation for Cities on World Water Day 2017

ARTICLE-2MAINICLEI is thrilled to announce the endorsement of the Ekurhuleni Declaration on Water and Sanitation for Cities on World Water Day 2017 at the LoCS4Africa 2017 Congress, supported unanimously by all mayors present after passionate and robust engagement.

The Declaration sets out collective principles, aspirations and a course of action for the future of water and sanitation governance in African cities, and lays out a roadmap for the implementation of these actions at local level across the continent.

“The Ekurhuleni Declaration on Water and Sanitation for Cities adds timely impetus to the globally urgent issues of water and sanitation”, says Kobie Brand, Regional Director of ICLEI Africa. “Through the Declaration, African mayors and their partners have collectively committed to taking action to enhance the delivery of basic services and promote the dignity of their people by making African cities more liveable, resilient and sustainable”.

This Declaration builds on international, continental and regional policy documents such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (2015), the Paris Climate Agreement (2015), and the World Water Development Report released today in Durban, South Africa. It paves the way for meaningful action at local government level across Africa to address the interlinked challenges of water, sanitation and climate change.

The mayors also called for ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA) and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, who have all endorsed the Declaration, to garner support for it from city leaders across Africa.

Reverend Moruakgomo, UCLGA, has committed to take the Declaration to the African Union so that it may be signed by governments across Africa. It will also be presented to the United Nations.

In 2019, at the next LoCS4Africa congress, mayors will report back on the progress made to implement the actions set out in the Declaration.

You can view the declaration here. To provide commentary and feedback, please email


New innovation partnership ‘AfriAlliance’ to link water needs and climate solutions in Africa

ARTICLE-3MAINWorld Water Day, also Day 1 of the LoCS4Africa 2017 Congress, saw the official launch of AfriAlliance – The Africa-EU Innovation Alliance for Water and Climate – in Africa to bridge the gap between water needs and climate solutions.

AfriAlliance Project Director Dr. Uta Wehn chaired the meeting and emphasised how the initiative will harness the collective power of innovation that already exists in Africa. “We try to address the knowledge gaps and needs in water and climate in Africa,” she said.

Ms. Carmen Mena Abela, head of H2020 Eco-Innovation Sector at the European Commission, expressed the organisation’s support for the AfriAlliance. “AfriAlliance knows much about knowledge sharing and we look forward to how they will address some of the Sustainable Development Goals.” Sustainable Development Goals 13 and 6 are particularly relevant when it comes to the local water and sanitation landscape in African cities.

According to Ms. Barbara Schreiner, Executive Director of the Pegasys Institute, addressing water and climate challenges also addresses the challenge of poverty reduction in Africa. Women, the marginalised, poor and the elderly are hardest hit by climate change but women in particularly are also the most flexible to respond.  

And, said Dr. Mandlenkosi Msibi of the Water Research Commission, Africa must look into science to play a critical role in solving the crisis of water scarcity. “Things need to be managed innovatively and we have the capacity to do that in African cities.”

The AfriAlliance consortium partners are UNESCO-IHE, WE&B, OIEau, WaterNet, ITC UT, INBO, ICLEI, AfWa, Akvo, CSIR, BothEnds, 2iE, WASCAL, WRC, WssTP, GWP.


Partnerships and lessons expected to be key outcomes of LoCS4Africa 2017

ARTICLE-4MAINMayors from around Africa upheld ICLEI’s Local Climate Solutions for Africa 2017: Water & Climate Congress (#LoCS4Africa) as an important platform for African leaders and experts to share ideas and experiences on the challenges of water and sanitation as they relate to climate change in African cities.

“We are here to share experiences as local government leaders in combating climate change, and look for solutions to our water challenges,” said Mayor Abel Langsi of Bafut Council (Cameroon) and chairman of the ICLEI Africa Executive Committee. “For us it’s about thinking globally but acting locally.”

Councillor Mzwandile Masina, Executive Mayor of host city Ekurhuleni echoed his sentiments and highlighted what hosting LoCS4Africa 2017 meant to him: “Ekurhuleni is highly affected by issues of water and climate change. I am here with a team and we are hoping to draw practical lessons from colleagues from other cities that can be implemented in the day-to-day running of the city. We can only learn through our own and others’ experiences.”

Prof Coleen Vogel of the Global Change and Sustainability Research Institute (GCSRI) at The University of the Witwatersrand describes this process as ‘social learning’.

She said it is an important instrument in addressing the complex challenges faced by African cities in light of climate uncertainties. Her work as a researcher explores ways to improve this process – as a leader in the field of resilience and governance, she advises integration between multiple levels of government in South Africa. “We are trying to design mechanisms and approaches that can help cities to learn, together with other partners, how to adapt effectively to climate change going forward.”

Kobie Brand, Regional Director of ICLEI Africa Secretariat, spoke about the value that the LoCS4Africa Congress can add to conversations around water in African cities.

For instance, among delegates at the Congress, hopes were high that LoCS4Africa 2017 would provide answers to the challenges they are facing in their own cities. Mr Thokozana Mkaka, who is working on a river rehabilitation project for the Lilongwe City Council in Malawi, says that he hopes to learn from others and find the right path to implement the project in conjunction with ICLEI.


Inspiring #Water4Cities infrastructure development

LWATSAN – The Lake Victoria Region Water and Sanitation Initiative was implemented in small towns around Lake Victoria in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Capacity building of utility management was found to work best in conjunction with infrastructure improvement.

Ramsar Convention –  The Ramsar Secretariat will open a call for applications to the Wetland City Accreditation; the first accredited cities, those most advanced in terms of wetland conservation, restoration and public participation will be announced at Ramsar COP13 in Dubai, UAE. More information:

Africa50 – Africa50 is an investment bank for developing infrastructure in Africa, including water infrastructure.

These are just three of the projects and initiatives presented during the sub-plenary session ‘Redefining Infrastructure for Africa’s Urban Future’ on Day 1 of #LoCS4Africa 2017.


What are leaders in climate change solutions doing right?

We have good policies, so now the question is how we move from policy to actions. – Prof Matthew Glasser, Centre for Urban Law and Finance.

Context is important: in a narrative where water is the protagonist, it is important to find the correct information for each unique narrative for each city. For this, a level of trust is needed between the providers and users of information. Where planning for climate change is involved, “we should build a narrative of response and not a reaction to a threat.” – Prof Bruce Hewitson, Climate Systems Analysis Group, University of Cape Town.

No need to complicate things. Ordinary interim solutions are what is needed for city dwellers. We need water tanks and information sharing to influence how policy is made. – Prof Tally Palmer Institute for Water Research.