In Africa, South Africa’s Working for Water program continues to scale up, leveraging more than $10 million from private sector partners in 2013 alone. But elsewhere on the continent, progress in launching stable Investment in Watershed Services (IWS) mechanisms remained elusive due to difficulty securing buyers and a frequent lack of policy support for natural infrastructure investment. Recent interest in natural capital accounting (NCA) among African national governments, including the 10 country signatories to 2012’s Gaborone Declaration – which committed countries to integrating natural capital assets into their national accounting systems – may  change that calculus, however.

 At a Glance: Watershed Investment in Africa


  • Between 2008 and 2013, transaction values grew an average of 23% a year, driven mainly by South Africa’s national Working for Water Program.
  • Business was a buyer in three-quarters of projects. The private sector spent $12M on watershed protection in 2013, all on a purely voluntary basis.
  • Project developers struggled to move programs into the operational stage, most commonly citing problems such as a dearth of buyers and legal barriers to investment. A lack of supportive policy frameworks in many countries appears to be a major barrier to scale.
  • Ten countries committed to implementing natural capital accounting at the national level, which could demonstrate Africa’s enormous natural capital asset values.

Related links

Watershed Connect Program Inventory (Ecosystem Marketplace)

State of Watershed Investment 2014  | Chapter 5 (Ecosystem Marketplace)