SHARM EL-SHEIKH, EGYPT (November 14, 2022) — At COP27, the World Resources Institute and partners launched the African Cities Water Adaptation Fund (ACWA Fund) with the aim of channeling $5 billion towards urban water resilience solutions in 100 African cities by 2032.

The ACWA Fund, launched at the Race to Resilience 2030 Climate Implementation Lab, and its supporting coalition, the ACWA Platform, launched at the Multi-Level Action Pavilion, will enable city leaders to directly access funding and technical support to implement innovative solutions targeting a range of water issues, including integrated governance, watershed management, increasing sanitation services, improved stormwater management and wastewater management.

“African cities need to be at the forefront of our financing priorities,” said Wanjira Mathai, Managing Director for Africa and Global Partnerships at WRI. “Our goal with the ACWA Fund and Platform is to ensure city leaders have a go-to facility that is responsive to their needs.”

Addressing the scope of climate and water challenges in African cities requires detailed coordination. Climate, water and urban sectors need to work together in order comprehensively and successfully meet people’s needs. In the coming decades, urban populations across Africa will double, and by 2050, water demand will triple. If climate-induced water stresses and shocks are not addressed, it will impact the health and productivity of millions.  

“The economic case for investments in water security is robust – and with climate change and other drivers exacerbating pressure on water systems, the value of investments in resilience is further heightened. The City of Kigali is thrilled to be collaborating with the ACWA Fund to deliver resilient water services that ensure for our city an equitable and prosperous future,” said Mayor Pudence Rubingisa of Kigali, Rwanda. “As we work to tackle our water challenges, we are also looking forward to joining the ACWA Platform as one of its first partner cities and gaining access to the Platform’s pool of experts.”

The resources necessary to address these growing needs are tremendous — with a $66 billion backlog in infrastructure investment across the continent and $9-$14 billion needed annually to secure water sources. Of the $100 billion in private investment allocated to water infrastructure since 1990, sub-Saharan Africa has received less than 1%. Combining private finance with coordinated public sector funds and climate and development aid will be the best way to increase access to safe and sustainable water services and to reduce cities’ exposure to water-related hazards.

“COP27 is an important moment to demand support for water resilience, which is central to Africa's climate adaptation journey,” said Smita Rawoot, the Urban Resilience Lead at WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. “Public and private sector investors must join forces to shore up resources for a resilient Africa.”

The ACWA Fund is supported by commitments to action from 23 institutions to provide both technical assistance and knowledge building in addition to accelerated finance. These institutions form the ACWA Platform which offers a centralized coalition of experts and researchers that will support project development and preparation. City stakeholders will work with the platform partners to develop investment-ready projects with high resilience and scaling potential. The ACWA Fund will catalyze implementation of projects through grants and concessional loans for project preparation as well as direct investment in the form of equity or subordinated debt. The fund will deliver $222 million in grants, $288 million in direct investments and indirectly leverage $5 billion in additional investments to help implement resilient water solutions in 100 cities by 2032.

Together this coalition will aim to improve access to sustainable water services for 29 million people, save 137 million cubic meters of water and create 64,000 jobs.  

“Water is central to sustaining our city’s development,” said Mayor Kedir Juhar of Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. “As one of the first municipalities to develop a City Water Resilience Action Plan, we have been shaping our water resilience priorities together with partners, prioritizing our most critical issues and our most vulnerable communities. Dire Dawa city welcomes this collaboration and would like to thank our partners as we work to strengthen our city for years to come.”

“We support the call for change at the global and African scale through mobilization of partnerships, collaborative action, effective multi-level governance, and unlocking finance and technical assistance to achieve transformative water resilience,” said Kobie Brand,  Deputy Secretary General, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, Regional Director, ICLEI Africa Secretariat.  “ICLEI Africa is therefore very proud to be a core partner in the African Cities Water Adaptation Platform and Fund.”

“By employing smart city concepts, promoting investments, and bringing in innovation that is home-grown, the ACWA Fund and ACWA Platform provide a transformative path towards urban water resilience solutions in Africa,” said Themba Gumbo, Director of Cap-Net UNDP.

The ACWA Platform is led by WRI Africa; WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities; WRI’s Water Program; African Centre for Cities; ICLEI Africa; WaterAid; Resilient Cities Network; Arup; Cap-Net UNDP; CDP; South African Cities Network (SACN); Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT); Future Water Institute at the University of Cape Town (UCT); Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC); Reos Partners; Rwanda Young Water Professionals (RWYP); Haramaya University; Water Partnership Rwanda; Water Integrity Network (WIN); Western Cape Economic Development Partnership; Zutari; the City of Dire Dawa; the City of Johannesburg; the City of Kigali; Musanze District; and Practical Action.

About World Resources Institute  

World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research organization that spans more than 60 countries, with international offices in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States, regional offices in Ethiopia (for Africa) and the Netherlands (for Europe), and program offices in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Our more than 1,700 experts and staff turn big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. More information at or on Twitter @WorldResources.