The present study collects original monetary estimates for water related ecosystem service benefits on the African continent from 36 valuation studies. A database of 178 monetary estimates is constructed to conduct a meta-analysis that, for the first time, digs into what factors drive water related ecosystem service values in Africa. We find that the service type, biome and other socioeconomic variables are significant in explaining benefits from water related services. In order to understand the importance that benefits from water related ecosystem services have for climate change, we explore the relationship between these benefits and the countries’ vulnerability and readiness to adapt to climate change. We find that countries face synergies and trade-offs in terms of how valuable their water related ecosystem services are and their potential vulnerability and adaptation capacity. While more vulnerable countries are associated with lower benefits from ecosystem services, countries with a higher readiness to adapt are also associated with lower ecosystem service values. Results are discussed in light of natural capital accounting and ecosystem-based adaptation.