Meet the incredible people behind the work we do at C40 Cities

C40 Voices: Senior Manager, Water Security, Partnership and Implementation, Africa

What motivated you to work in the climate space, and how did you become involved with C40?

My journey into the climate space began with a background in civil engineering, a field where climate considerations are peripheral but have a profound impact. Having experienced droughts and water shortages and working in areas devastated by cyclone Idai in 2019 sharpened my focus on environmental equality and climate resilience. Since then, I have channelled expertise towards water and sanitation, particularly in African communities that are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. My transition to C40 in 2023 was driven by a desire to make a tangible difference, particularly in supporting African cities in water management and climate adaptation strategies.

What’s an accomplishment that you are proud of in your work with C40?

Since joining C40, my focus has been on elevating the importance of water management within the urban planning and resilience frameworks of African cities. The challenge of integrating climate-resilient water policies at a city level amidst broader continental and national dialogues has been a complex yet rewarding endeavour. I am particularly proud of the strides we’ve made in positioning water resilience as a critical agenda for city mayors, as evidenced by several African mayors endorsing C40’s recently launched Water Safe Cities Accelerator.

Thulani with C40 colleagues at a recent workshop in eThewkini.

What upcoming initiatives is C40 working on that you are excited about?

I am looking forward to the forthcoming African Water Safe Cities Forum in Tshwane. This platform is particularly exciting as it represents a confluence of innovation, collaboration, and leadership in the water management sector. By introducing new water urban water management approaches and technologies to African city water leaders, the forum aims to spearhead transformative solutions and foster a community of practice that is sustainable and forward-thinking.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

Living in Tshwane offers a unique blend of nature, adventure and cultures to explore. While there’s a lot more to discover, I am privileged to live near diverse spaces where I enjoy walks and hikes with my family. This not only provides a physical outlet, but also allows me to reconnect with my surroundings and recharge.

Once a year, the golf bug bites, seeking a few weeks of exploring courses in new corners of South Africa. The outdoors counterbalances professional demands, keeping me refreshed and inspired.

C40 Voices: Senior Manager, Water Security, Partnership and Implementation, Africa
Thulani on the golf course.

World Water Day is on 22 March; this year’s theme is “water for peace.” How do you believe water plays a role in fostering peace and resilience?

Water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change and rapid urbanisation, is a pressing challenge across Africa, often leading to heightened community tensions and protests over the resource’s allocation. Recently, we’ve also seen the increasing role of hydro-politics in fueling mass migration and international conflicts. Addressing water security through cooperative management can serve as a powerful vehicle for peace and resilience.

Initiatives aimed at improving water infrastructure mitigate conflict potential and enhance community well-being. By embracing inclusive and sustainable water management strategies, water is being transformed from a source of potential conflict into a foundation for cooperation and peace.

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