Supporting African cities in becoming water-wise

What are the key water, waste and climate change challenges facing my city? Have other cities faced similar challenges? How far is my city to become a blue city? Is up-to-date water data in my city collected and easily accessible to everyone? These are some of the questions that the City Blueprint Project aims to answer, using a methodology developed by the KWR Water Research Institute and the University of Bath that UNESCO is implementing to help African Member States achieving water security. The first phase of the project (2019-2020) provided an assessment of the sustainability of water management in six African cities. UNESCO is now launching the City Blueprint project’s second phase in four more cities, in collaboration with those two institutions.

The second phase will focus on: Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), Nairobi (Kenya), Lagos (Nigeria) and Lusaka (Zambia). Six young experts were identified in these cities to conduct the study working with supervisors from the research sector. A kick-off webinar, held on 31 May 2021, brought together the young experts and their supervisors as well as other partners, to discuss the significance of the project and defined the actions needed.

UNESCO implemented the first phase of City Blueprint Project in 2019-2020 together with KWR Water Research Institute and Bath University in Yaoundé (Cameroon), Bangui (Central African Republic), Libreville (Gabon), Windhoek (Namibia), Abuja (Nigeria) and Harare (Zimbabwe). This first phase was very successful, thanks to the support of young professionals, the majority of whom were women, who implemented this approach locally with many more contributors. UNESCO has decided to expand the study in four more African cities in order to build on this momentum and create a city-to-city network among all the stakeholders of the CBF in Africa. This second phase will provide municipalities with a science-based decision-making tool and help build the capacities of young professionals working in the field of urban water.

The City Blueprint Approach consists of three indicator assessments:

  • the Trends and Pressures Framework (TPF),
  • the City Blueprint Framework (CBF), and
  • the water Governance Capacity Framework (GCF).

The TPF shows the main social, environmental and economic pressures related to water management, while the CBF represents an integrated overview of the management performances in the urban water cycle. Finally, the GCF shows how the city could improve its water governance.

In line with UNESCO’s priority on Youth, the CBF is performed by a local young professional, in charge of the data collection. In the kick-off webinar, each local young professional showed a strong interest and motivation towards the project. We are delighted to introduce them here.

Young Professionals of the City Blueprint Framework (CBF)

Mr Koffi Ouattara, who will assess the city of Abidjan, is eager to detect problems related to the management of water and sanitation resources and contribute to sustainable development towards the project with his background of environmental science and management.

Mr Seun Olajide, whose background is Urban and Regional Planning, will carry out the CBF in Lagos. He is motivated to solve particular Nigerian issues related to water throughout his assessment.

Ms Ethel Mudenda Namafe, currently pursuing a PhD degree in integrated water resource management, will implement the CBF in Lusaka. She shows a strong interest in evaluating current urban water management for improved and sustainable urban water management that would transform Lusaka into a water-wise city.

Ms Georgina Luti, who studied Geology for her master’s degree and will perform the CBF in Nairobi, shows a high motivation to come up with solutions that helps improve the quality and management of water resources and sanitation standards in Nairobi.

Two masters students from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom will also take part in the project, as a joint effort with the local student but focusing on the GCF: Ms Gulshen Unveren for the GCF in Lagos and Mr Jesse Rabinowitz for the GCF in Lusaka.

Photo: the kick-off meeting of the 2nd phase brought together the young professionals, their supervisors and other partners.

UNESCO Headquarters and Field Offices are pleased to welcome these energetic and motivated young professionals to the project and will continue fully supporting them in making it a success. For the next step, young professionals are going to work on the data collection through the data platform, stakeholder consultation, interviews etc. This data will enable them to score 25 indicators, and highlight areas where efforts should focused for sustainable management of the resource. The second part of the project will consist in the organization of a workshop with all local stakeholders (municipality, water and sanitation operators etc.) to present the results of the research and formulate policy advice based on them.

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