City leaders in Africa face converging challenges including extending water and sanitation services for growing populations, managing risks of watershed degradation, competing water demands outside city jurisdictions and designing for climate resilience. As Africa rapidly urbanizes, city dwellers will need sustainable, adaptive and resilient urban water systems.

The Urban Water Resilience Initiative works with partners to help cities overcome water challenges by illuminating urban water resilience challenges and pathways, demonstrating evidence-based solutions and enhancing capacities. Working in six African cities, the Initiative has helped cities identify and prioritize strategic actions that will build resilience, provide access to high-quality water and protect residents from water hazards.

Through deep engagement and consensus amongst a diverse group of institutions, the Urban Water Resilience Initiative has led the development of the African Cities Water Adaptation (ACWA) Platform, a coalition of partners delivering customized technical assistance and capacity-building support through collaborative action. Founded on the principles of the 2030 Joint Agenda for Urban Water Resilience, the ACWA Platform supports cities to design, finance and implement innovative solutions for water resilience. The coalition includes cities, research institutes, civil society actors, development agencies, national governments, businesses, private sector investment groups, national banks, professional consultancies and associations.

The ACWA Platform is funded mainly through the African Cities Water Adaptation (ACWA) Fund. Launching at COP27, the ACWA Fund is a blended finance instrument that will support 100 African cities in leveraging $5 billion in financing for urban water resilience solutions by 2032.


This initiative is being led by WRI Africa, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, the WRI Water Program with partners in business, government and civil society. Together, we provide experience in creating accessible, equitable, healthy and resilient urban areas for people, businesses and the environment to thrive and ensure a water-secure future by addressing water quantity, quality and governance challenges.

Project Partners:

  • Resilient Cities Network  
  • Arup 
  • Resilience Shift 
  • Bantu Design 
  • Haramaya University 
  • Rwanda Young Water Professionals  
  • Zutari 
  • Addis Ababa Water and Sewage Authority 
  • Addis Ababa City Resilience Project Office  
  • City of Johannesburg  
  • City of Kigali  
  • Musanze District 
  • Rwanda Ministry of Infrastructure  
  • City of Dire Dawa 
  • Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, South Africa 
  • South African Cities Network 


Cover image by: Moiz Husein/Shutterstock