World Resources Institute (WRI) and the City of Kigali launched an initiative in Kigali aimed at ensuring the city has sustainable and resilient water supply, both now and for the future. World Resources Institute is a global research organization that is operational in more than 60 countries, with international offices in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and the United States. With its regional offices located in Ethiopia, WRI has supported work in over 350 plus cities, impacting the lives of more than 630 million people. The initiative launched in Kigali, on April 1, is part of WRI’s three-year programme (2020-2022) to help advance urban water resilience in Africa. The Urban Water Resilience Initiative is being led by World Resources Institute Africa, World Resources Institute Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, and the World Resources Institute Water Program in partnership with Arup, the Resilience Shift, the Resilient Cities Network, and Bantu Design. Kigali city is one of six African cities the initiative will engage through this year to build sustainable, adaptive, resilient urban water systems. The launch brought together a broad range of partners from the city of Kigali, the central government, the water sector stakeholders, and the private sector who discussed key challenges and opportunities to building urban water resilience in Kigali. The initiative seeks to ensure a water-secure future by addressing water quantity, quality and governance challenges and help cities address their water risks and vulnerabilities through research, technical assistance, knowledge sharing and partnerships for collective action. Through the initiative, WRI is working with the City of Kigali to develop an urban water resilience action plan as part of implementing the City Water Resilience Approach (CWRA). Aklilu Fikresilassie, the Director of Thriving Resilient Cities at the World Resources Institute Africa said that CWRA has successfully worked in other cities. Gareth Morgan, the Chief Resilience Officer of the city of Cape Town attended the event and shared that “City Water Resilience Approach is used for assurance provision. To check whether the city is on the right track. It is used as an engagement tool, in Cape Town in South Africa since 2019”. He said that urban water resilience will address challenges faced by African leaders to supply safe, reliable and affordable water to the growing populations. “It is expected that by 2050, Africa’s urban population will double and water demand will quadruple. Millions will depend on infrastructure that is yet to be built. Already, two-thirds of city dwellers in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to safe water and sanitation services. It is critical that African leaders come together to address their urban water resilience challenge holistically and in an integrated manner,” he said. He said that in order to achieve urban water reliance, cities must ensure equitable access to safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable water supply through land use and water resource planning, water infrastructure and measures to protect regional watersheds. “This must be supported by governance, planning and finance systems that continually adapt to climate change,” he noted. Fikresilassie said that there is need for integrated planning, innovative approach, data-driven decisions, efficient utilization of resources, participatory approach and sustainable funding and finance. “We look forward to working closely with Japheth Habinshuti, the chief resilience officer for the city of Kigali to initiate this in Kigali.” City of Kigali welcomes the initiative While launching the Urban Water Resilience initiative, the City of Kigali said it will build sustainable, adaptive, resilient urban water systems in Kigali. “Apart from fueling social economic development, adequate water supply and sanitation services are vital in ensuring preventive health care for Kigali residents. We cannot imagine life in a city without safe, sufficient and stable water to sustain healthy ecosystems and human survival,” said PudenceRubingisa, Kigali city mayor. As a rapidly growing City, Kigali houses close to 50 per cent of the urban population in the country. “Within this context of rapid change, understanding our water-related risks and vulnerabilities is essential for us to improve the ability of our water systems and communities to dynamically adapt to, respond to and recover from a range of shocks and stresses,” he said. The World Resources Institute and partners will work with city stakeholders todevelopaurban water resilience action plan, map key water, climate and development risks facing the city and develop research to identify pathways for change. It will also catalyze implementation of priority actions through various capacity building initiatives including providing technical assistance, supporting knowledge exchange and others. The action plan for the Africa Urban Water Resilience Initiative will produce actionable research and unique geospatial analysis to improve understanding of urban water resilience challenges and critical pathways for action for African cities. Marceline Kayitesi, the Division Manager for Water and Sanitation in the Ministry of Infrastructure said the initiative is timely considering that the city is facing water supply challenges. “Government has set targets to reach in terms of water supply. We are planning to reach universal access to water and sanitation by 2024,” she said. The targets will help achieve the ambitionset by Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. “We are still facing challenges in water supply in urban areas such as old water distribution networks in Kigali and secondary cities,” she said. Gisele Umuhumuza, the deputy chief executive of Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) reiterated that the initiative will help to address the issue of satisfying growing demand for water. She said that sustainable water supply requires understanding growing demand and how people are settled. “We are being challenged by water quantity and quality as well as high turbidity,” she said. “Water quality requires new technology, new investments for affordability of such services,” she said. Prime Ngabonziza, the Director General of Rwanda Water Resources Board said that some of the challenges affecting water resilience in Kigali include unplanned settlements, adding that 77.3 percent of the city residents live in unplanned dwellings. Another major challenge, he said is the lack of storm water management. “We need proper design on storm water management. There is also the issue of climate change making water management scenarios unpredictable,” he said that there are recurrent floods in urban rivers and downstream. He added that there are opportunities considering that 10 percent of Kigali city is covered by wetlands as well as other water bodies that can even help deal with floods besides water supply. Juliet Kabera, the Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority reiterated that disasters and climate change being felt are among challenges affecting water infrastructure and thus water resilience in the city. “We have to protect water catchments to reduce water stresses,” adding that people have to embrace wise use of water as a way of attributing value to water. Ernest Nsabimana, Director General of Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) said that private operators in water supply are not fully professional. “This affects the quality of water in some areas,” he said. He said with rapid urbanization growth, the water resilience initiative will help. He added that private operators are also still few in some areas especially in rural areas. Francois Xavier Tetero, a Green City Development Specialist for GGGI said that there is a need for increasing the budget to ensure water resilience. “Water quality and turbidity affects water resilience. We also need bankable projects,” he said, noting that there is a need for looking into the possibility of private sector financing. There are many public investments in water and we need to maximize possible room for private sector contribution. Building water resilience requires identifying priorities, he added. Dr. FrannieLéautier, a finance and development expert from SouthBridge said that cities should position themselves to attract investments in water resilience. In order for the government to get finance for water resilience, she said that there is a need for solutions related to the bond market and public private partnerships for future infrastructure investments. She added that there are also water funds for basin level resilience while cities also need to package portfolios to attract investors and micro-investments. “Kigali International Finance Centre can help the cities like Kigali attract investors,” she made the case.