UN 2023 Water Conference

Climate Resilient Groundwater as catalyst for sustainable development in Africa’s borderlands –a shared SDG agenda

March 22, 2023

The United Nations 2023 Water Conference is set to feature a special side event highlighting innovative solutions to address the cycle of drought and famine in the Horn of Africa. Titled "Climate Resilient Groundwater as Catalyst for Sustainable Development in Africa's Borderlands – A Shared SDG Agenda", the event taking place at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday 24 March at 9.30 a.m. EST, will seek to mobilize UN and partners’ efforts towards the sustainable use of millions of cubic kilometers of untapped groundwater reservoirs to provide water in the region of Africa the most affected by chronic drought and severe food insecurity.

The Horn of Africa is currently experiencing the worst drought in 73 years and is about to face its sixth consecutive failed rainy season. Hunger and water shortages are a reality for over 15 million people across Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South-Sudan and Sudan. In Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, over 36 million people need emergency assistance to survive and up to 26 million of them acutely food insecure.

The region is however rich in underground water which, with the right development investments, could become a sustainable and climate-resilient source of water for the whole region. This special side event, co-hosted by the governments of Ethiopia and the Netherlands and supported by technical partners including the World Bank Group, UNDP, UNICEF, and CIFF, will build momentum towards the development of a Groundwater Access Facility (GaFa) for the Horn of Africa's borderlands to invest in pre-feasibility analysis and project pipeline development in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia.

In the Horn of Africa, water is central to accelerating development, social cohesion, and conflict resolution, particularly in borderlands areas. Borderlands areas across Africa are home to over 40 million people facing complex socio-economic development, security, and climate change impact challenges, where the need for accelerated sustainable development is urgent.

Climate Resilient Groundwater as catalyst for sustainable development in Africa’s borderlands –a shared SDG agenda

This high-level side event will also showcase dedicated investments being made in these borderlands areas by IGAD and member states, with support from the World Bank Group - Groundwater for Climate Resilience (HoAGW4CR) special programme, UNDP Africa Borderlands Centre, and UNICEF country teams. These investments identify, develop, and distribute climate resilient groundwater for agro-pastoralism and domestic use in selected borderland locations in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia.


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