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Profile: Africa-EU Innovation Alliance on Water and Climate

Profile: Africa-EU Innovation Alliance on Water and Climate

A new Africa-EU Horizon 2020 network aims to enhance African preparedness for climate change. By GERARD RALPHS and DR UTA WEHN

Questions: Gerard Ralphs
Responses: Dr Uta Wehn

What is the context in which the AfriAlliance project has emerged? What is the project’s goal?

The World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2016 identifies water crises and failure of climate change adaptation and mitigation as the highest impact risks for the next decade. More specifically, a lack of appropriate water-related skills and capacity in some parts of Africa, and institutional fragmentation within Africa as well as between Africa and the EU, are major obstacles to addressing water crises, climate change challenges, and achieving the SDGs. AfriAlliance therefore aims to enhance African preparedness for climate change challenges by enabling African and European stakeholders to work together on water and climate innovation, research, policy, and capacity development.

What are some of the ‘quick wins’ the project will be looking to achieve?

In the short-term, we seek to capitalise on the existing knowledge base and innovation in Africa and the EU in order to identify opportunities to co-create, adapt and apply solutions for water and climate change challenges, which are based on a much-improved understanding of local demands in Africa.

What are some of the long-term impacts it foresees in its theory of change?

The long-term impacts we aim for are:

  • Minimised fragmentation among the broader water and climate community in Africa, the EU and other international actors;
  • Better preparedness in Africa to address water and climate change vulnerabilities;
  • Enhanced knowledge sharing and technology transfer among key stakeholders within Africa and between Africa and the EU; and,
  • Improved water resources monitoring and forecasting processes and tools in Africa.

In what ways does the structure of the consortium support the objectives of the project?

Many of the consortium partners are either networks or have a very broad regional scope. AfriAlliance is therefore a coordination platform, which aims to consolidate the experiences of these already networked actors into an effective, problem-focused knowledge sharing mechanism. As such, AfriAlliance provides an opportunity to initiate and establish joint action on water and climate within Africa, and between Africa and the EU, based on the principle of mutual benefit.

Can you tell our readers about the process of developing the project’s funding proposal from the early stages through to its submission, evaluation and approval.

In 2014 UNESCO-IHE took the initiative to lead a proposal to the Horizon 2020 Water 5b call, which asked for the establishment of a knowledge platform for water and climate issues. A small task force undertook a preliminary gap analysis of existing networking associations and we formed a
consortium to include a broad range of organisations in the water sector: academia, SMEs, NGOs and well as policymakers. Our proposal was submitted in April 2015 and, since just one project could be awarded funding, luckily for us that was AfriAlliance! Our kick-off meeting took place in Delft, The Netherlands, in March 2016.

Where can readers go to learn more about AfriAlliance?

The AfriAlliance website (, Twitter feed (@AfriAlliance1), and Facebook page are key sources of information. Readers can also contact us at Our inaugural launch conference will take place from 20-23 March 2017 in South Africa. Participants are welcome to provide input to further shape our activities.

*This interview was first published in the June 2016 CAAST-Net Plus Magazine.

[Image credit: AfriAlliance]

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Disclaimer: CAAST-Net Plus is funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n0 311806. This document reflects only the authors’ views and the European Union cannot be held liable for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.

CAAST-Net Plus is funded by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement 311806
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