12.01.2021 Open end
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Water Security in Africa (WASA)

Safe access to sustainable water is an essential element in improving living conditions in Africa. Compared with other areas of the world, the population of Sub-Saharan Africa currently has by far the lowest level of access to safely managed water supplies. Significant investments in the water sector can be expected. Innovative water technologies, adapted water infrastructure and forward-looking management concepts are urgently needed. As a result of the German Federal Government's round table on "Creating Perspectives in Africa" the long-term interministerial program "Water Security in Africa (WASA)" was launched with a focus on research and education. 13 collaborative projects are currently conducting research in the initial phase of the program.

The WASA program was developed in a consultation process together with African and German experts from science and practice. On the German side, the Federal Foreign Office (AA), the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV), the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport (BMDV), the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) and their subordinate institutions participated in the development of the program under the lead of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). WASA is part of the BMBF strategy "Research for Sustainable Development - FONA".

WASA stands for innovative forms of collaborative partnership with Africa, with a view to strengthening the research landscape, the economy, and civil society. WASA centers on issues that make a crucial contribution to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The initiative actively seeks to leverage the potential for synergy that can be found in activities that are jointly conceived– and more effectively coordinated – in the context of research cooperation, development cooperation, and economic development.

WASA will enable African stakeholders to make more effective use of the huge investments and funding previously directed into the water sector, substantially increasing their impact.

The WASA program starts with an initial phase in Southern Africa. It will be financed by a call for proposals from the BMBF. From a large number of proposals, 13 projects were selected. They bring together various research consortia with African and German partners aimed at testing ideas and coordinating them with local stakeholders. This will result in concrete plans for the implementation of measures in the following WASA main phase. In the first WASA main phase, the focus is on research and development activities. Specifically, system and action knowledge is to be generated and made available.

The second main phase focuses on the implementation and transfer of successful concepts and solutions from the previous phases. This includes stronger links to development cooperation measures and economic demand. In an optional follow-up phase, continuation is ensured by African partners. WASA will be adapted according to the results after each phase, but is basically designed for the long term. Thus, the entire value chain can be covered, from the analysis of R&D needs, through data collection and knowledge generation, to implementation and continuation.

WASA is structured into the three thematic areas "Sustainable Water Resources Management", "Water Infrastructure and Water Technology" and "Hydrological Forecasts and Projections".

Sustainable Water Resource Management

  • Transboundary hydro-economic modeling
  • Open Science for water security
  • Climate resilience, wastewater security and drinking water security
  • Community-based water management
  • Water management in mining to avoid damage to critical water resources
  • Climate-adapted water management in mining

Water Infrastructure and Water Technology

  • Water-sensitive urban development
  • Frugal innovation and digitalization in the water sector
  • Innovative water infrastructure management
  • Multi-scale water reuse
  • Multifunctional resilience strategies
  • Water technology in mining to improve water security and reduce environmental impacts

Hydrological Forecasts and Projections

  • Co-design of a hydrometeorological information system

The WASA initial phase involves institutions from Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Tanzania, as well as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) as parent organizations. The terms and conditions for the WASA main phase as well as the governance structures will be specified by the German and African ministries and stakeholders involved in WASA. This will be followed by the publication of a funding announcement for the first WASA main phase.

At the 10th of October 2022, glimpses from the projects in the WASA initial phase will be presented within a stakeholder information event.

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