Climate change impacts on the water cycle are expected to significantly affect agricultural output globally, with the African continent that has the least adaptive capacity being the worst affected. The State of the Climate in Africa 2021 report, which focuses on water, indicates that high water stress is estimated to affect about 250 million people on the continent and is expected to displace up to 700 million people by 2030. Four out of five African countries are unlikely to have sustainably managed water resources by 2030.
The report, a joint initiative between the World Meteorological Office and the African Union Commission, drives the point home through one example. The total surface area of Lake Chad, which is located close to the Sahara Desert, bordering Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Niger, has shrunk from 25 000 km2 in the 1960s to 1 350 km2 in the 2000s. Such challenges require concerted efforts to exploit the opportunities for programming and policy innovations to improve groundwater management for increased agricultural production and productivity on the continent.
It is against this background that the Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and the Southern African Development Community Groundwater Management Institute (SADC GMI) have signed a cooperative agreement that seeks to foster collaboration between the two institutions. The collaboration will be around the implementation of joint activities in support of Africa’s agriculture and groundwater development, including providing training on policy-related issues, facilitating consultative policy dialogues, and undertaking joint research, reviews, and resource mobilization.
The agreement was signed by Dr. Tshilidzi Madzivhandila (FANRPAN Chief Executive Officer and Head of Mission) and Engineer James Sauramba (SADC GMI Executive Director) on 29 September 2022, in Pretoria, South Africa.
Commenting after the signing, Dr. Madzivhandila looked forward to FANRPAN and SADCGMI delivering policies that ensure a food-secure Africa, with water being a critical element. In response, Eng. Sauramba underscored his expectation for strong collaboration for sustainable development in the region by jointly addressing water-energy-food nexus issues.
SADC GMI is the Centre of Excellence for groundwater management in the SADC region. Its mandate is to promote sustainable groundwater development and management through the creation of an enabling policy, legal and regulatory environment; capacity development; advancing research supporting groundwater infrastructure development; convening multi-stakeholder dialogues, and promoting the accessibility of information on groundwater in the region.