BR.20.008 – Water for Health and Development in sub-Saharan Africa

Route: The blue route: water as a pathway to innovation and sustainable growth

Cluster question: 011 How can we ensure proper water governance in the future?

The World Economic Forum sees the “water crisis” as one of the most significant global risks facing society over the next decade. A huge decline in the available quality and quantity of freshwater will result in harmful effects on human health and economic activity. Moreover, global water demand will increase at an annual rate of 1%. And the imbalance between freshwater availability and demand will worsen due to factors such as population growth, urbanisation, and climate change. The water crisis will particularly affect vulnerable regions of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), home to half the world’s impoverished people and with a population increasing from 1 to 2.1 billion by 2050.
To address the challenge, (direct) competition between water for agriculture, industry and domestic purposes should be avoided and synergies sought, thereby increasing the availability and accessibility of existing and new resources. However, in SSA water & sanitation (WASH) and water resources management (WRM) infrastructure is lacking, especially at the critically important interface between rural development and midsized towns. Furthermore, poor (water) governance leads to inequalities within communities, weak financing schemes and questionable decision-making, data are scarce, rainfall erratic, and river flows highly variable.
Therefore, this project seeks to investigate how rapidly urbanizing midsized towns (< 500,000 inhabitants) can transition to affordable, integrative WASH & WRM approaches for improved health and accelerated development.
Applying innovative scientific approaches e.g. collecting and analysing data through citizen science, robust (sensing) and remote sensing, underpinned by a collaborative approach through which innovative and sustainable solutions for infrastructure will be co-created and piloted will create opportunities for leapfrogging traditional approaches as used in Europe The final outcome of the research is that the development of midsized SSA towns will no longer be restricted by water scarcity.


Drinking Water, Governance, Innovative Technologies, Robust Sensoring, Sanitation, Water Resources

Other organisations

IHE, KWR, Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM), Utrecht University (UU)


Organisation TU Delft (TUD)
Name Prof. dr. ir. L.C. (Luuk) Rietveld