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Africa-EU Innovation Alliance for Water and Climate

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AfriAlliance (Africa-EU Innovation Alliance for Water and Climate)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2017-08-31

Africa is one of the regions most in need of innovative solutions for tackling water and climate change-related challenges. Moreover, the lack of appropriate water-related skills and capacity in some parts of Africa and the wide-spread institutional fragmentation within Africa as well as between Africa and the EU is a major obstacle to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and addressing water crises, many with severe climate change implications.

AfriAlliance aims to better prepare Africa for future climate change challenges by having African and European stakeholders work together in the areas of water innovation, research, policy, and capacity development. Rather than creating new networks, the 16 EU and African partners in this project are consolidating existing ones, consisting of scientists, decision makers, practitioners, citizens and other key stakeholders, into an effective, problem-focused knowledge sharing mechanism. This is being coordinated by means of an innovation platform: the Africa-EU Innovation Alliance for Water and Climate, galvanising existing networks and institutions to facilitate knowledge exchange within Africa and between Africa and the EU.

AfriAlliance is supporting the existing networks in identifying appropriate social innovation and technological solutions for key water and climate change challenges. It is capitalising on the knowledge and innovation base and potential in Africa and in the EU. The project is supporting effective means of knowledge sharing and technology transfer within Africa and between Africa and the EU, all with the aim of increasing African preparedness to address the vulnerability of water and climate change-related challenges.
The AfriAlliance events held, namely the AfriAlliance launch conference and the first Innovation Bridge Event, were prime opportunities to strengthen and enrich the coordination among diverse stakeholders from Africa and the EU on concrete issues, projects and initiatives. The first Innovation Bridge Event provided an opportunity for >280 registered delegates of the WaterNet symposium (October 2016) to become aware of the AfriAlliance project and the exhibition, technology demonstrations, and presentations provided a concrete platform for exchanging knowledge. The inaugural AfriAlliance Conference that was hosted within the framework of the LOCs4Africa Water & Climate Congress in South Africa (March 2017) exposed AfriAlliance to more than 400 delegates, including 40 Mayors and 150 city representatives.

Moreover, the launch of the AfriAlliance Online Platform has provided a channel for exchanging information and knowledge within the consortium and outside to various water and climate related actors. Diverse and intensive communication efforts ensured good and relevant attendance in the AfriAlliance events and activities. These dissemination and communication activities were monitored and evaluated in order to further improve them and increase their impact.

Following various preparatory activities, the first call to form AfriAlliance Action Groups was published. This was a resounding success with >120 applications received. After careful evaluation and selection, the first set of five AfriAlliance Action Groups was successfully launched and all Action Groups have started implementing their activities.

In order to inform various AfriAlliance activities, stakeholder identification, mapping, analysis and visualisation activities were undertaken to identify vulnerabilities to climate change and priority areas for actions to take place at local level in Africa. Moreover, research was carried out into the reasons for knowledge fragmentation across the many stakeholders involved in water and climate issues in Africa and between Africa and the EU.

Interactive workshops were undertaken in four different regions in Africa to identify the local needs arising from Climate Change, involving 130 stakeholders from 36 countries in Africa. These workshops as well as interviews helped identify the nature of local needs of water managing organisations and their prioritisation, and of the barriers for African stakeholders to implement existing solutions. An AfriAlliance needs database was designed and set up to serve as the basis for the matching of demand for, with the supply of, innovative solutions.

The cross-cutting theme ‘Monitoring’ was identified as a significant vulnerability and was addressed by the first set of Social Innovation Factsheets. This has contributed to improving the knowledge base on four key dimensions of monitoring: technological solutions, governance structure, capacity development and business roadmap.

In order to improve monitoring and forecasting (M&F) processes and water data and information access tools, a prototype web-based mapping service was set-up and a comprehensive analysis report produced on constraints, barriers and opportunities for using the triple sensor data for M&F of water and climate challenges. Also, a concept and plan for developing a full monitoring system covering all water sources were produced.
Showing the connections of actors and understanding the reasons for water and climate knowledge fragmentation can lead to a greater understanding of who the main actors are in water and climate in Africa and the EU and how to link to these actors. This allows entities to work together that previously may not have been aware of each other. Also, understanding the reasons for knowledge fragmentation will result in better sharing and uptake of knowledge. AfriAlliance will also impact researchers and local companies through the implementation of the activities of the Action Groups.

The wide dissemination of the demand driven R&I outlook produced will generate market signals via the networks of the AfriAlliance partners about the required social innovations which SMEs and industry can then use to target and tailor their solutions. This will directly impact local organisations in Africa whose needs can be addressed more effectively. Moreover, the continuously updated needs database is supporting this market mechanism over time. In parallel, the identified capacity needs of various stakeholders and at various levels will be strengthened, overcoming barriers for implementing available solutions.

Enhancing knowledge exchange and technology transfer through online means (AfriAlliance Online platform) and offline channels (Innovation Bridge events, roadshow and conferences) will allow AfriAlliance results to be shared. Changes in knowledge, attitude, practices and possibly policies can be anticipated as a result of the face-to-face activities and policy discussions that will take place during the offline knowledge brokerage events.

The triple sensor Monitoring & Forecasting approach will address the access to water data and information challenge for governments, society, the private sector and the public. This approach may also facilitate improvement of practices in the handling of broader water-related information.

The dissemination of the many AfriAlliance outputs (social innovation fact sheets, policy briefs, demand-driven R&I outlook, and the research and innovation agenda) as well as the results of exchanges among peers and the adaptation of practices to craft African solutions to water and climate challenges will all contribute to improving the preparedness of African stakeholders to climate change challenges.
Group picture of the AfriAlliance consortium at the AA launch conference