Improving climate resilience of local communities in southern Africa

Building the resilience and improving water security among the communities and ecosystems in southern Africa

The Resilient Waters programme focusses on building resilient institutions, developing robust information systems, and promoting practices that enhance sustainable natural resource management.

Working across four integrated areas, the programme aims to build the capacity of, and enhance the cooperation between, people and institutions at the community, national, and regional levels through improved management of transboundary natural resources and increased access to safe drinking water and sanitation services, including:

  • Improving the management and security of transboundary water resources in selected river basins
  • Increasing the access to safe and sustainable drinking water and sanitation services in selected areas
  • Strengthening the ability of key institutions and targeted communities to adapt to impacts of climate change
  • Improving the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services in key areas of southern Africa

To achieve these objectives, the programme is bringing together various stakeholders located around the Okavango and Limpopo river basins, working together six national governments, diverse local communities, and river basin organisations and trans-frontier conservation areas, such as the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area and the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area.


Southern Africa has significant biodiversity and natural resources, however, most countries in the region are water scarce or water stressed. National policies lack harmonisation across countries and between sectors, and poor and vulnerable populations lack enough benefits and incentives for sustainable resource management.

The region is the most urbanised part of the continent, but it continues to grapple with institutional, structural, financial, and environmental challenges that threaten the economic development and quality of life of the region. Besides this, urban sprawl, resource depletion, and climate-disaster risk create extreme vulnerability, requiring a strategic and sustained response.

Cities and city regions alter the natural space and ecosystems beyond their boundaries and a robust diagnosis of critical threats, hazards, risks, and vulnerabilities is required to drive effective urban planning and city management and to implement measures to adapt to, and mitigate the effects of, climate change, especially the impacts of water insecurity driven by increasing temperatures and declining levels of rainfall.

Our approach

We are providing technical support across the fields of biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, livelihood diversification, and urban resilience. Our technical work builds on the framework followed by the Resilient Waters Programme and introduces urban areas as critical elements, without which, the ultimate goal of long-term resilience to shocks cannot be fully achieved.


This project aims to improve access to, and service delivery of, water, sanitation, and hygiene services for the local communities, ensuring diversified and more climate resilient household incomes.

In addition, it looks at strengthening institutions working in the region, building capacity of local and national authorities, and improving knowledge sharing by introducing new natural resource management approaches and water infrastructure monitoring and management tools. It will provide access to downscaled climate change projections, with defined resilient adaptation pathways, and develop the institutional capacity to respond to these future challenges.

Area of expertise