Integration of water in NDCs in Sub-Saharan Africa commendable, more efforts crucial

7 Feb 2023 by The Water Diplomat

Available data indicate significant benefits in integrating climate change coordination with good practices established for water management. Integrating water into the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) agreed under the Paris Agreement is a practical and urgently needed tool to achieve this.

Water plays a crucial role in climate change and drought in Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance because climate change affects the water cycle by altering precipitation patterns and increasing evaporation, leading to more frequent and intense droughts. Drought, in turn, exacerbates the effects of climate change by reducing water availability for agriculture and increasing water scarcity, leading to food insecurity. The over-extraction of water from underground aquifers and rivers for drinking and irrigation contributes to water scarcity, exacerbating impacts of drought.

Furthermore, climate change and drought also increase the frequency and severity of water-borne diseases, affecting the health and well-being of populations. Therefore, managing water wisely and reducing the impacts of climate change is critical to mitigate the impacts of drought in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Representing the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation, Simon Thuo, speaking to journalists during a workshop on water issues for East African journalists organised by The Water Diplomat and Africa21 in Nairobi recently, said NDCs include measures to increase the resilience of communities to the impacts of climate change and drought, such as improving access to clean drinking water and water-saving technologies.

Many NDCs from countries in the Greater Horn of Africa region include specific measures to improve water management and reduce the impacts of climate change on water resources. Citing some examples he said;

 “Ethiopia's NDC includes a focus on increasing water storage capacity through the construction of dams and increasing efficiency of irrigation systems to reduce water loss while Sudan's target is to increase the use of renewable energy in the water sector and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the sector by 20%. Kenya's NDC on the other hand includes a target to provide access to safe and clean water to at least half of its population by 2030.”

Unarguably, implementation of these NDCs can help to reduce the impacts of climate change and drought on water resources and improve the resilience of communities to these impacts but they are marred by lack of funding, limited technical capacity, political instability and lack or poor coordination of NDCs programmes, Thuo emphasized.

Thuo’s presentation further elaborates that these initiatives have helped to increase water availability for agriculture in the Horn of Africa, resulting to improved resilience of communities to the impacts of climate change notably, long periods of drought.

These success stories demonstrate the potential for NDCs in improving water management and reducing the impacts of climate change. They highlight need for sustained efforts and investment to ensure implementation is successful and results in meaningful outcomes, he added.