Launch meeting of the African Mayors’ Roundtable for Water Security

In view of the 9th World Water Forum to be held in Dakar from 21 to 26 March 2022, the OECD and UCLG Africa organized on 19 January a preparatory meeting to launch the “Roundtable of African Mayors for Water Security”.

The meeting was co-chaired by Ms. Lamia Kamal Chaoui: Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities (CFE) of the OECD and Mr. Jean Pierre elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa, and moderated by Ms. Aziza Akhmouch, Head of the Cities, Urban Policies and Sustainable Development Division of the OECD. About fifty mayors, Presidents of Associations, representatives of local governments and other key and institutional actors involved in water and sanitation management in Africa.


The meeting was structured around three axes, namely:

  1. The three main challenges facing cities:

The devastating effects of climate change in African cities. The OECD report points out that floods have affected 38 million people and caused an estimated $4 billion in damage over the past 15 years in Africa. The risks of drought and water scarcity will affect 162 million people in African urban areas by 2050. The link between the water theme and the biodiversity agenda was also highlighted in the perspective of developing local solutions based on nature.

Water governance: Many mayors have highlighted the reality of competences related to water resources management and sanitation, which in most cases are not transferred to local authorities. Indeed, a minority (42% of the cities surveyed by the OECD) have adopted public policies relating to water resources management, as these competencies often fall under national prerogatives.

– Access to finance: This issue affects both local governments and service operators and has also been raised on several occasions. In particular, the lack of financial resources and capacity are the main obstacles to the maintenance of existing infrastructure by local governments.

2- Mayors’ expectations regarding the Roundtable’s activities:

– Promote dialogue between local and national administrative levels regarding water and sanitation management for a good coordination between levels of government and integrated and territorialized policies.

– To shed light on the framework conditions for an effective territorial decentralization of water policies on the African continent, taking into account institutional diversity.

– To ensure capacity building of African cities and local authorities on water-related issues.

– Learn from successful experiences of good governance in the management of water services and resources on the African continent and beyond on the basis of the 12 OECD Principles on Water Governance;

– Create a permanent consultation platform on the theme of water governance in cities, which can encourage synergies and complementarities between territories, and raise the voice of mayors at the national, regional and international levels.

3- Engagement of institutional partners:

The meeting also provided an opportunity to initiate a consultation with many institutional partners active in Africa on water resources and management issues, in order to explore synergies and collaborations within the framework of the roundtable’s activities. The various donors, research organizations, associations, city networks and other stakeholders who participated in the launch meeting all welcomed the establishment of the roundtable, which will allow for

– Create a space for discussion and exchange between mayors and key actors of the ecosystem operating in the field of water and sanitation in Africa.

– Promote and highlight the messages and advocacy of local governments on the issue of water and sanitation.

– Coordinate the objectives and interests of their ongoing initiatives with those of the roundtable in order to create value and collective dynamics.

Major objective of the Mayors’ Roundtable for Water Security:

The establishment of a platform for sharing and strengthening the collaborative approach with a view to fostering the effective territorialization of water-related public policies.

The modus operandi of this round table will be structured around an observatory that will allow the creation of a framework that favors access to innovation, financing and the evaluation of needs in terms of capacity building

About the Roundtable

Scheduled to take place on 24 March 2022 in Dakar during the 9th World Water Forum, “The Round Table of African Mayors for Water Security”, is a high-level initiative, jointly led by the OECD and UCLG Africa, which aims to provide a platform for the voice of African mayors to be heard and to put their actions related to the management of water services and resources at the center of local, national and international agendas. The Roundtable aims to facilitate the design and implementation of robust local public policies in the areas of water and sanitation. Supported by an Observatory on Water Governance in Africa, the Roundtable will promote the production of new local data and territorialized analyses in the field of water, in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (in particular SDG 6 “Clean Water and Sanitation” and SDG 11 “Sustainable Cities and Communities”). The Roundtable will also encourage the sharing of knowledge, experiences and good practices, and enhance learning and collaboration among mayors.

The Roundtable builds on the key findings of the OECD report on “Water Governance in African Cities“, published in March 2021, based on a survey conducted jointly by the OECD and UCLG Africa in 36 African cities of different sizes.  Membership in the roundtable is free and offers local governments the opportunity to i) attend the bi-annual meetings, in person or online, ii) present water-related initiatives and projects, and iii) benefit from peer-to-peer knowledge and experience sharing.

The roundtable will be the starting point for the establishment of a permanent consultation platform beyond the World Water Forum to ensure that the issue of water management is everyone’s business. The next steps in the roadmap are: The 9th Africities Summit scheduled for 17 to 21 May 2022 in Kisumu, Kenya and the COP 27 scheduled in November 2022 (Egypt).