Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA)


Today, Africa has around 1.3 billion inhabitants and is projected to reach an estimated 2.8 billion by 2060. The continent has a huge potential to reduce poverty, enhance the energy efficiency, and mitigate climate risks by sustainably managing and using its abundant natural resources like water.

However, access to clean and affordable water is a privilege. While only 58% of Africans have access to safe drinking water, less than 5% of cultivated land is irrigated, and the continent utilizes only 10% of its hydroelectricity potential.

Tapping into Africa’s water resources has the potential to significantly strengthen the region’s water security, improve livelihoods, and fuel economic growth. Improved water management can contribute towards achieving food security, reducing vulnerability to climate change, improving human health and sanitation, and increasing energy generation and industrial expansion.

With 90% of the water in Africa falling within 63 international river basin catchments crossed by multiple borders, water management in the continent is a global and cooperative endeavor.


Since 2011, the Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) program is supporting riparian governments in Sub-Saharan Africa to assist in the sustainable, inclusive, climate-resilient growth by addressing constraints to cooperative management and development in transboundary waters.

CIWA achieves its goals by focusing on its three I’s:

• Information: for understanding risks, better decision-making, and monitoring compliance

• Institutions: to build trust, coordinate planning, and manage shared resources

• Investment: to manage watersheds, develop groundwater, build storage, among others

Managed by the World Bank, CIWA is a neutral third-party facilitator providing technical support, and critical analysis to create a better understanding of the transboundary water issues for making informed decisions.


CIWA has a three-pronged approach to deliver results, employing strategies to strengthen and enhance institutions, information, and infrastructure. CIWA supports through:

1) Sustained Engagement with priority basins, CIWA helps strengthen foundational elements such as data, agreements, institutions, and investment and operation plans.

2) Strategic Engagement contributes to high-impact prospects through analytical effort, capacity building, and technical assistance.

3) Knowledge Generation and Management initiatives strengthen the evidence base to create tools to manage international waters.

CIWA provides a platform to support and amalgamate national governments, regional and international organizations, and civil society to ensure that the stakeholders’ concerns are addressed, and benefits are equitably distributed.

CIWA-supported activities are cross-sectoral as it includes Gender and Social Inclusion (GESI), Fragility, Conflict, and Violence (FCV), energy, agriculture, transportation, social issues, and the environment. It ensures that people and property are protected from water-related shocks and works towards sustainability of the resource base. 

Sustained Engagements

CIWA provides support to four priority basins: Niger, Nile, Volta, and Zambezi. Through long-term, sustained engagement with priority basins, CIWA enables steady progress towards cooperation by strengthening foundational elements such as data, agreements, institutions, and investment and operation plans.

  • Niger Basin – CIWA support in the Niger Basin builds the technical, legal, and institutional capacity to plan and implement large scale infrastructure and climate resilience investments.
  • Nile Basin – CIWA supports the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) to prepare multistream and cooperative regional investments. The NBI continues the first phase implementation of a basin-wide hydromet network with over 50 hydrological monitoring stations to be rehabilitated, installed, and commissioned by 2021. Complemented by the Nile Basin Discourse, NBI projects amplify the voice of grassroots communities in development projects.
  • Volta Basin – CIWA supports institutional strengthening and capacity building of the Volta Basin Authority (VBA). The Council Ministers have endorsed the Water Charter, and CIWA supported VBA by sharing studies and knowledge products.
  • Zambezi Basin – CIWA support assists the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) with strategic basin planning, decision support systems and institutional strengthening activities. CIWA is supporting the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) with infrastructure development, such as conducting detailed feasibility, environmental and social studies, and transaction advisory services.
Strategic Engagements
  • Horn of Africa: CIWA supports the Horn of Africa (HoA) Groundwater Initiative by consolidating and improving access to groundwater data, institutional capacity building, and feasibility studies for economically exploitable groundwater resources in three transboundary aquifers prioritized by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member countries. The knowledge initiative on climate resilience focuses on pastoral communities, a vital group in the national and regional economies of the HoA, which is highly vulnerable to climate change.
  • Somalia: The project provides technical support to the Government of Somalia to articulate its water resources development options for the Juba and Shebelle basins. It is supporting the development of a water resources model and a National Water Strategy.
  • Lake Chad: The Lake Chad Dialogue project supported the development of an updated basin-wide conceptual groundwater model.
  • West and Central Sahel: A new knowledge initiative is designed to strengthen water resources management in the region by identifying pragmatic investments and policy actions.
  • Great Lakes Water Quality: The analytical work aims to advance the waterquality knowledge base that will underpin investments to improve stability, human capital, and climate resilience in the Great Lakes region.
  • Luapula River Basin: The study reviewed the legal and institutional frameworks to inform the future development of Luapula Sub-Basin hydropower investments in Zambia and the DRC. The review proposed options to strengthen the institutional framework for cooperation in the Luapula River basin, including on aspects related to the development of Luapula Hydropower Projects.
  • Okavango: Multi-Sector Investment Opportunities Analysis (MSIOA), funded by CIWA, for the Cubango-Okavango river basin helped explore development opportunities through applied modelling of the economics, hydrology, and the environmental impacts of a range of different development options.
  • SADC: CIWA supports the SADC Groundwater Management Institute to strengthen transboundary and national institutions for improving regional cooperation and build capacity for sustainable transboundary and national groundwater management. Another new analytical work on drought resilience seeks to help SADC member states better manage risks emanating from drought across the energy-water-food environment nexus.
Knowledge Management and Generation
Digital Data initiative helps countries, regional organizations in data collection, data management, analysis and interpretation using specific applications such as water accounting. The analysis-ready information system for decision-makers improves evidence-based decisions on water resources.

Annual reports

  • CIWA Annual Report 2020 - In FY20, CIWA expanded its portfolio in important regions while laying emphasis on cross cutting issues such as gender and social inclusion, climate resilience, and fragility, conflict, and violence (FCV). In this year's report, we share the status of our ongoing projects and provide a glimpse of our new and upcoming activities.
  • CIWA Annual Report 2019 - A year ago, CIWA committed to deepening its engagement in fragile and conflict-affected situations. In this 2019 Annual Report, we discuss the progress made toward this commitment, particularly in the Horn of Africa.
  • CIWA Annual Report 2018 - CIWA's FY18 advances, cumulative progress, and project highlights are detailed in this annual report microsite.
  • CIWA Annual Report 2017 - The 2017 annual report showcases the results achieved in FY2017.
  • CIWA Annual Report 2016 - The 2016 annual report showcases the results achieved in FY2016, including influencing $9.9 billion dollars in investment financing – investments projected to potentially benefit 47.8 million people. The report also highlights the breadth of CIWA activities, which include support for analytical work to create a shared understanding and facilitate cooperative development and management of international waters.
  • CIWA Annual Report 2015  - The report highlights the substantial progress in FY15 toward strengthening cooperative management and development of transboundary waters in Sub-Saharan Africa for climate-resilient growth. CIWA’s work in seven basins influenced US$8.9 billion in investment financing projected to potentially benefit 48.6 million people.
  • CIWA Annual Report 2014 - The 2014 Annual Report showcases the breadth of CIWA’s portfolio, describing the program’s engagements across the continent in East, West and Southern Africa primarily in the Nile, Niger, Volta, and Zambezi basins. Important catalytic activities, including the Political Economy of Cooperation, a Multi-Sector Opportunities Analysis in the Okavango Basin and efforts to make important water and climate information more accessible through the Spatial Agent app are also featured.

Africa-wide Analysis

  • Climate Resilience in Africa: The Role of Cooperation around Transboundary Waters - This report examines the evidence for the link between cross-border cooperation and climate resilience from transboundary basins in Africa. The framework helps development planners and practitioners think through and make the case for implementing certain actions at the regional level in conjunction to actions taken at the national level.
  • Political Economy Analysis for Transboundary Water Resources Management in Africa – The guidance note provides practical advice to help water resource management specialists carry out strong, operationally relevant analysis that contributes to new ways of thinking and working, and ultimately to achieving better results. See the full report (PDF).
  • Economic Rationale for Cooperation in International Waters in Africa – This paper provides a review of the challenges to transboundary water cooperation, pathways for overcoming those challenges, and the role of economics in facilitating the discovery of those pathways. See the full report (PDF).

Basin Reports and Plans

Last Updated: Feb 17, 2021

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Feature Stories




CIWA is a 15-year program assisting governments across Africa, transforming lives by managing water resources. CIWA is managed by the World Bank and has continuous financial support from the following partners:

European Union

• Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)

Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands

Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)

CIWA funds various organizations ranging from governments, river basin organizations, regional economic communities, to civil society organizations, and African regional and national institutions in addressing transboundary water management issues.

Annual report

CIWA Annual Report 2020

As the CIWA program enters its tenth year, we look back at how CIWA support has helped navigate complexities and unique political economies, using lessons learned to achieve stronger programming and impact on the ground.

Rapport Annuel

Découvrez le rapport annuel 2020 de CIWA

À l’aube de sa dixième année, CIWA fait le point sur la manière dont il a travaillé dans des situations complexes et des économies politiques uniques, en tirant parti des enseignements acquis pour renforcer les programmes et l’impact sur le terrain.



Erwin de Nys