The OECD, UCLG –Africa, the World Water Council and the Kingdom of Morocco are delighted to introduce this report on Water Governance in African Cities. This report is published as part of the OECD Programme on Water Security for Sustainable Development in Africa, launched in 2018 by the OECD Secretary-General Mr Angel Gurría, the recipient of the 6th edition of the King Hassan II Great World Water Prize.

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goal number 6 on “Clean Water and Sanitation” and other water-related targets by 2030, requires that national and local governments put in place the enabling conditions to effectively manage risks of too much, too little or too polluted water, while providing access to water quality services to all. If no action is taken, it is estimated that by 2050, more than 160 million people in Africa will be living in urban areas with a perennial water shortage. The need to address these pressing health and hygiene challenges for the 40% of sub-Saharan African citizens lacking basic access to water supply and the 70% lacking access to basic sanitation, has only been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic .

Megatrends related to climate change, urbanisation and demographic shifts will further exacerbate pressures on water resources. The African continent is one of the most exposed to climate change impacts. Moreover, between now and 2050, two thirds of on-going urbanisation will happen in towns and intermediary cities, which have less capacity to deploy enabling and mitigating infrastructure than larger ones.

Building on a survey across 36 cities of all sizes in Africa, this report provides a regional analysis of who does what in water management, the effectiveness of institutional, policy and regulatory frameworks, as well as the critical governance gaps that need to be bridged in order to boost the capacity of all towns and cities to drive water security in the African continent. This first ever comprehensive analysis of water governance challenges at the local level in Africa aims not only to raise awareness of pressing and emerging issues that urban areas face, but also to galvanise political action from Mayors and city leaders.

In order to provide momentum to the policy dialogue underlying this report and the evidence it brings, a ‘Roundtable of African Mayors for Water Security’ - is being launched as a Policy Forum to share best practices and guide policy reforms and actions on the road to the 9th World Water Forum, to be held in Dakar, Senegal in March 2022. We invite all African mayors to join this platform as a signal of their commitment to the water cause and of their political impetus to improve local water policies for better urban residents’ well-being.



Angel Gurria

OECD Secretary-General



Abdelkader Amara

Minister of Equipment, Transport, Logistics and Water, Morocco



Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi

Secretary-General of UCLG-Africa



Loic Fauchon

President of the World Water Council

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