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Factsheet for young people: Water Resources Management, Floods and Disaster Risk Management

In this brief created by the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA), learn why disaster risk reduction (DRR) and integrated water resource management (IWRM) are essential steps on the path to climate adaptation. This factsheet is part of a series presenting data from the GCA's flagship studies State and Trends in Adaptation in Africa 2021 and 2022.
A water tap on a clay-colored wall
Photo by shraddha kulkarni on Unsplash


Climate change will have a significant impact on Africa’s water sector.

Water is causing increased competition and conflict among countries, sectors, communities, and individuals. Water and land shortages, compounded by the consequences of climate change, can lead to conflicts, particularly in nations with ethnic divisions. These tensions may develop into overt violence and war in vulnerable contexts. Most African countries confront issues in managing water resources sustainably and guaranteeing inexpensive and reliable water service delivery to farmers, homes, and industry.

Africa has the most transboundary river basins in the world, with the Nile, Niger, Senegal, Zambezi, Congo, Volta, and Lake Chad serving as the region’s critical regional growth arteries. Climate change is predicted to significantly increase the number of people in danger of flooding, which is already considerable and expanding. Floods have long-term human capital consequences in addition to their acute disruption effects. As a result, systematic Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) are critical steps in the journey towards climate adaptation and any more extensive programme of equitable development in Africa.

This factsheet is part of a series that presents information from GCA’s flagship reports State and Trends in Adaptation in Africa 2021 and 2022. It aims to disseminate key adaptation information to young people and showcase youth-led adaptation action from across Africa.

This article is an abridged version of the original text, which can be downloaded from the right-hand column. Please access the original text for more detail, research purposes, full references, or to quote text.

Key Messages on Flood Risk Management

Water is one of the most direct transmission channels of the consequences of climate change: too much, too little, at inconvenient times. Africa’s fast-growing population, more water-intensive growth trajectories globally and in the area, and rising pollution are all elements that will make climate adaptation more challenging and essential.

The following are key flood risk management messages:

  • Understanding flood danger is critical.
  • Traditional structural flood mitigation infrastructure is costly and must be carefully targeted.
  • Planning and preparedness are the most vital cost-effective nonstructural flood risk management techniques.
  • The next level of nonstructural measures concerns land use planning and management.
  • Nature-based solutions are another structural remedy that can mitigate flood hazards at a lesser cost and with greater flexibility.
  • Rapid changes in Africa make short- and medium-term flood prediction difficult.
  • Flood risk management facilitates long-term, resilient growth and regeneration.

Please see page 2 of the datasheet for further information on flood risk management.

Good practices: Youth-led adaptation solutions

Kimplaneter Seedling and Nurseries Limited, Kenya

Kimplanter Seedlings and Nurseries Ltd, one of the 2021 winners of the YouthADAPT Solutions Challenge, is a Kenyan youth-led enterprise that supplies drought-resistant seedlings that can grow under challenging climatic circumstances. In addition, the organisation provides farmers with farm inputs and agronomy advice on the best crop management practices to boost productivity and maintain quality while generating cash from yields. The YouthADAPT award assists the company in researching new varieties of seedlings that are drought resistant and high in nutrition. It also provides training and support to farmers who purchase their products and increases productivity. Learn more!

World Youth Parliament for Water

The International Secretariat for Water established the World Youth Parliament for Water (WYPW) in 2002 to connect passionate young people and engage them in decision-making on water issues while raising awareness and empowering young water leaders to advance equity, peace, and a healthy environment within the water sector. Since then, the movement has built over 50 local and regional parliaments, mobilising over 15,000 young leaders from 80 countries to take action on water concerns at all levels. WYPW members participated in the GCA’s Youth Adaptation Dialogue in 2022 to highlight water’s importance and young people’s role in amplifying adaptation action.

Find out more here.

Key Policy Recommendations

Defending Africa against future floods will necessitate more resilient, adaptive, and incremental approaches that can adapt to a broader range of future development trajectories and a changing climate.

  • Africa requires adequate facilities to access, store, and conserve its water resources and increase resilience against disasters and the consequences of climate change.
  • Increased investment in disaster risk reduction and water management plans and systems is required.
  • Early warning systems, excellent ex-ante planning, rapid response in the aftermath of a disaster, and overall resilience development of vulnerable populations are required to ensure readiness, appropriate response, and a fit-for-purpose recovery programme.
  • Significant infrastructure expenditures are necessary to improve access, manage water-related risks, and increase water security.
  • Another critical aspect of managing Africa’s water resources is transboundary cooperation.
  • River basin organisations are critical for the region since transboundary aquifers underpin more than 40% of the continent.
  • Analysing the distribution of floods and poverty at the subnational level can provide insights for spatially focused flood mitigation programmes for the poor.
  • Water adaptation strategies that integrate economic sectors and multiple levels of government are required.
  • In addition to nature-based solutions, sustainable flood risk management should include enhancing existing approaches and creating fresh methodologies.
  • Coordination of IWRM and DRR is crucial.

On page 3 of the factsheet, you may read more about these policy proposals.

Suggested Citation:

Delporto, N. (2023). Factsheet for young people: Water Resources Management, Floods and Disaster Risk Management. Available at:

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