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Africa-EU Innovation Alliance for Water and Climate

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - AfriAlliance (Africa-EU Innovation Alliance for Water and Climate)

Reporting period: 2019-03-01 to 2021-02-28

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 aimed 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 consolidated existing ones, consisting of scientists, decision makers, practitioners, citizens and other key stakeholders, into an effective, problem-focused knowledge sharing mechanism. This was 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 supported the existing networks in identifying appropriate social innovation and technological solutions for key water and climate change challenges. It capitalised on the knowledge and innovation base and potential in Africa and in the EU. The project supported effective means of knowledge sharing and technology transfer within Africa and between Africa and the EU, with the aim of increasing African preparedness to address the vulnerability of water and climate change-related challenges.
The AfriAlliance events held were prime opportunities to strengthen and enrich coordination among diverse stakeholders from Africa and the EU on concrete issues, projects and initiatives. The inaugural AfriAlliance Conference in South Africa (2017) exposed AfriAlliance to more than 400 delegates. Knowledge brokerage events served as a platform to further bring together the demand and supply sides of innovations for the water and climate sectors across the continent. In total, 6 Innovation Bridge Events were held, alongside 9 Brokerage Roadshows. The Final AfriAlliance Conference was held online in 2020, with over 200 delegates present at four dedicated sessions.

Moreover, the AfriAlliance Online Platform provided a channel for exchanging information and knowledge to various water and climate related actors. A completely revised version of the platform was launched in April 2019 which had >50,000 visits since going online.

Following two competitive calls, AfriAlliance launched 10 Action Groups, each of which brought together African and European peers with relevant knowledge and expertise to work jointly towards demand-driven, implementable solutions and resulted in 4 joint follow-up proposals.

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 and interviews were undertaken in four different regions in Africa to identify the local needs of African stakeholders arising from Climate Change, involving >130 stakeholders from 36 countries in Africa. These 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 online Needs & Solutions Hub was designed and set up to serve as the basis for the matching of demand for, and supply of, innovative solutions.

Research into the required long term water-related knowledge base in Africa to face the impacts of Climate Change generated the basis for strategically enhancing collaboration within Africa and between Africa and the EU.

In order to improve monitoring and forecasting (M&F) processes and water data and information access tools, a 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. The open access AfriAlliance Geodata Portal was developed which contains metadata on water and climate information sources of Africa to strengthen water and climate monitoring and forecasting processes, and use of data collection and analysis tools in Africa.

Two Massive Open Online Courses were implemented to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change on water resources and how to address these, with >600 and >800 participants, respectively. Diverse and intensive communication efforts ensured good attendance in the AfriAlliance events and activities. This was complemented by a ten-part, bilingual webinar series to present the results of the project.
Showing the connections of actors and understanding the reasons for water and climate knowledge fragmentation can lead to a greater understanding and linking of the main actors in water and climate in Africa and the EU. This allows entities to work together that previously may not have been aware of each other. Also, understanding the reasons for knowledge fragmentation results in better knowledge sharing and uptake. AfriAlliance also impacted researchers and local companies through the implementation of the activities of the Action Groups.

The wide dissemination of the demand driven R&I outlook generated market signals via the networks of the AfriAlliance partners about the required social innovations for SMEs and industry to target and tailor their solutions. This directly impacted local organisations in Africa whose needs can be addressed more effectively. Moreover, the continuously updated needs database supported this market mechanism over time. In parallel, the identified capacity needs of various stakeholders and at various levels were 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) allowed AfriAlliance results to be shared. Changes in knowledge, attitude, practices and possibly policies are anticipated as a result of the face-to-face activities and policy discussions that took place during the offline knowledge brokerage events.

The triple sensor Monitoring & Forecasting approach and the AfriAlliance Handbook on Data Collection addressed the challenge of access to water data and information for governments, society, the private sector and the public. This approach also facilitated improvement of practices in the handling of broader water-related information.

The dissemination of 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 all contributed to improving the preparedness of African stakeholders to climate change challenges.
Group picture of the AfriAlliance consortium at the AA launch conference