A rope technician works to remove invasive pine trees. TNC works with local organizations to support these water saving efforts.
High elevation tree removal A rope technician works to remove invasive pine trees. TNC works with local organizations to support these water saving efforts. © Roshni Lodhia

2019 Annual Report

African Water Crisis

In Africa, The Nature Conservancy developed a pair of ambitious water funds—and has many more in the works. Water funds, introduced by TNC and partners to locales around the world, are programs that help urban water users pay for upstream forest and waterway restoration that boosts the downstream supply of clean water for homes and businesses.

In 2015, TNC established a water fund that is supporting 28,000 farmers to save water along the Upper Tana River, a main water source for Nairobi’s 4 million people. Then in 2018—the same year Cape Town, South Africa, came perilously close to running out of water—TNC launched the Greater Cape Town Water Fund. The water fund is removing invasive, thirsty and highly combustible tree species such as pine and acacia, which consume about a sixth of Cape Town’s water supply. The effort will not only free up some 14.5 billion gallons of water for Cape Town each year but also reduce the risk of wildfire and restore native wildlife habitat.

TNC, together with several partners, is now developing water funds for a half dozen other cities across Africa.

Protecting Cape Town's Water Supply (1:24) The Greater Cape Town Water Fund is using nature-based solutions, such as removing water-thirsty invasive plants, to increase the amount of water that flows to Cape Town, South Africa, and surrounding areas.