The CAR has a dense hydrological network spread over the whole country, which is distributed mainly between the two watersheds, the eastern basin of Logone in the west and the Chari in the center and in the east. The Central African Chari basin covers 202,351 km2 . The tributaries of the Chari River occupy the northern third of the country. The remaining two-thirds of the land flows south into the Ubangi River, which forms the southern border of the Central African Republic with the Congo (Kinshasa) .
The mean annual precipitation is 1369.6 mm. The heaviest rainfall is recorded in the country from May to October. Most of the Central African population depends on groundwater and local sources located largely in equatorial forests for drinking water. However, despite the high availability of water resources, the CAR has little institutionalized water supply infrastructure, which has an impact on urban and rural supply as well as on sanitation and hygiene for local people  .
The increased aridity and drought in the CAR are also expected to lead to land degradation, loss of biodiversity and surface water, negatively impact on the agricultural production and increase the likelihood of forest fires .
Despite the reforms to water supply and sanitation, insufficient infrastructure development, as well as financial and political difficulties has led to slower advances. Areas of CAR with remote access and low population density have experienced the highest challenges in WASH .
Issues with the availability of water are largely due to damage to infrastructure during protracted political-armed conflicts. Climate change also worsens the situation by reducing water quality and increasing the incidence of flooding, which damages the available infrastructure.
An important negative role is played as well by deforestation, degradation of watersheds, land use, urbanization and poor management of settlements, and slash-and-burn farming techniques in the CAR have exacerbated water resource problems .
In addition, CAR is also vulnerable to many water-borne diseases such as diarrheal diseases and malaria.
Key policies and governance approach
The CAR has established a legal and regulatory framework for water management and is committed to several water-related multilateral environmental agreements. The CAR is also committed to improving the country's drinking water supply and to putting in place water quality monitoring systems as well as ground and surface water resources  . Since early 2020, the country has been adopting a National Water Policy. The main objective of the National Water Policy is, on the one hand, to create individual and collective awareness of water-related issues in the country, and on the other hand, to promote more great synergy and coherence in public and private investments as well as ensuring the active engagement of various actors to solve critical water resources problems, and promote integrated water resources management (IWRM) in the country .
Successes and remaining challenges
Challenges for effective management of water resources in the country persist mainly due to lack of funding, weak governance and recurrent armed conflict in CAR, that destroy the existing infrastructure and water provision services.
In addition, meteorological observations and meteorological station networks across CAR are scarce , providing limited information and making projections on future rainfall levels more difficult in the country. This is an important issue to resolve in the CAR since rainfall is projected to become substantially more variable in the country and will likely increase in frequency and intensity of floods events, thus hampering water resources management efforts in CAR. Improvements of hydro-meteorological forecasting in the country will greatly enhance planning and investment capabilities in the water resources sector in CAR, as well as improve the ability to plan and prepare for major rainfall events and for the likelihood of flooding more effectively.
Initiatives and Development Plans
The CAR government promotes integrated water resources management and has a well-developed water code. Currently, efforts and initiatives in the water sector in the country are channeled towards the coordination of programs through public, private and local actions. The aim is to achieve more effective mobilization of financial investment opportunities in water resources to support key infrastructure investments in water access, irrigation and hydropower generation potential  .
The Direction Générale de l’Hydraulique (DGH) and the Ministère de l'Economie et des Finances are implementing a project running from 2012 to 2022 called “First Sector Sub-Programme for Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation in Bangui and Four Prefectures”. The sub-programme sought to: (i) restore the nominal drinking water production capacity of the only pumping station in Bangui by raising it from 750 m3 /hour to 1,500 m3 /hour; and (ii) increase drinking water and sanitation coverage rates from 28% and 1.7%, respectively, to 67% and 10% by 2015 in the targeted rural areas, while supporting the reintegration of people into their respective communities. The components of the sub-programme are: (i) institutional capacity-building; (ii) development of drinking water supply and sanitation infrastructure; (iii) sub-programme management, knowledge management and monitoring and evaluation . The sub-programme will benefit a population of approximately 1,260,000 inhabitants, including 1 million in the city of Bangui .
Goals and Ambitions
The CAR government recognizes the importance of water resource management and aims to improve the country's drinking water supply and establish monitoring systems for water quality as well as ground and surface water resources. CAR’s government committed, by 2021, to :
- the construction of 800 water wells ;
- the distribution of 2,000 hand-washing machines to households; and
- distribution to vulnerable households 2000 sanplat slabs.
And by 2030 to:
- develop and implement a National Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Program by 2030.
- Conducting research on water management and irrigation to help address the likely increase in rainfall variability, and to identify crops best suited to drought and higher temperatures.
- Research should also be undertaken concerning the quality of the surface and underground water for enhanced resource allocation (and conservation) planning.
- Design of urban and transport infrastructure for increased flooding .
- The CAR would also greatly benefit from the improved quality of hydro-meteorological services through the expansion of observation and forecasting infrastructure, which can increase the accuracy and quality of forecasted natural disaster events .
- Improved water management and usage will benefit agriculture, water quality and availability and help to ensure adequate food security and water access.
 Britannica (2022). History of the Central African Republic.
 World Bank (2011). Water Supply and Sanitation in Central African Republic : Turning Finance into Services for 2015 and Beyond. An AMCOW country status overview;. Washington, DC. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/17754 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
 CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (2020). Midway Progress Report: Central African Republic.
 Global Water Partnership (2020). The Central African Republic Government Endorses the National Water and Sanitation Policy.