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Sanitation and Water for All at Africasan 4

06 May 2015

With four editions, AfricaSan has become a leading platform to promote political prioritization of sanitation and hygiene. This year, the Government of Senegal convened and organized of the meeting. It was held in Dakar, Senegal from May 25 - 27 2015. The conference attracted Ministers responsible for sanitation from across Africa, along with participants drawn from government agencies, civil society, donors and development banks, multilaterals, research organizations and the private sector.


Countries shared their experiences towards achieving their eThekwini and SWA High Level Meeting commitments. The meeting was an opportunity for exchanging information on country action plans, in order to improve their quality, realism and potential for impact. Also, participants tool stock of the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals and their implication for the water, sanitation and hygiene sector.


Sessions summaries


Session 1: The Status of Sanitation and Hygiene in Africa
Monday 25 May - 9.00 to 10.30
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The most important sanitation conference in Africa kicked-off today in Dakar. SWA participated in several of the sessions, in a jam-packed programme that seems to energize the hundreds of participants.Catarina de Albuquerque, SWA’s Vice-Chair, was the moderator of Session 1, which provided a big picture analysis of achievements, progress and challenges facing the sanitation and hygiene sector in Africa. Organizations presenting at this session included WHO / UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme, the UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) and AMCOW. Amanda Marlin and Fiorella Polo, on behalf of the SWA partners, introduced the partnership and presented a sneak-preview of the conclusions of first progress update on 2014 HLM commitments.One of the main overall conclusions of this session was that, although Africa is doing well when it comes to putting policies in place to advance the cause of WASH, implementation and financing are still lagging behind and compromising universal access. Inequality was also a topic common to most presentations, with several organizations making the point that data currently used often doesn’t tell the full story.

View the Progress Update on the 2014 High Level Meeting Commitments - 2015 Update AfricaSan Issue

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Side-event 4: GLAAS Special report for AfricaSan 4
Monday 25 May - 12.40 to 13.50
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The UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) Special Report for Africa was launched at a side-event convened by SWA’s partner WHO. The session was an opportunity to discuss the future direction of GLAAS and linkages with the SWA partnership.Catarina de Albuquerque provided some comments on the common roots of SWA and GLAAS - both grew out of a desire to streamline the work we do on sanitation. She also challenged participants to consider ways in which GLAAS could better focus on inequalities (more data on the unserved and underserved?) and make bigger efforts to gather data from budget allocations and finance flows inside middle- and higher-income countries...“

"29 of 39 African countries that participated in the GLAAS Report 2014 recognize the human right to water."

- Fiona Gore, Project Manager, GLAAS



Session 3B: Financing and Monitoring: Financing Sanitation
Monday 25 May - 16.00 to 17.30
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Under the 2008 eThekwini Declaration, ministers responsible for sanitation and hygiene in 32 African countries committed to "establish specific public sector budget allocations for sanitation and hygiene programs, with the aspiration that these allocations should be a minimum of 0.5% of GDP".However, no country has yet achieved this allocation, although some countries have made significant progress. This was a very practical and participatory session, that not only provided an overview of progress towards this commitment, but saw participants discuss together the (re)wording of that particular part of the eThekwini Declaration. The group’s suggestions will be taken to the ministers for consideration. Amanda Marlin gave participants an overview of the status of the HLM commitments related to finance. The panel discussion included Achille Kangni, Ministry of Health, Benin and Julian Kyomuhangi, Ministry of Health, Uganda. There was consensus that commitments are meaningful, even if they are not fully achieved. They provide countries with a target to aim for, and provide a basis for ongoing advocacy.There was also agreement that eThekwini and HLM commitments are complementary: the first outlines what we should be aiming for, the second pinpoints the practical steps that countries will take to achieve that target.


"If our efforts are done outside the national budgeting process, we won’t go very far. We need to think about the different ways and rationales that resonate with the decision-makers."

- Glenn Pearce-Orozz, WSP Principal Regional Team Leader for Africa


Session 3/D: “Capacity building and human resource development
Monday 25 May - 16.00 to 17.30
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Capacity building was one of the buzz words of this first day of AfricaSan 4. Session 3/D zoomed in on the topic based on IWA’s HRCG study – 15 WASH sector human resource assessments – that concluded the WASH sector’s human resource capacity and future supply of sanitation professionals is very poor. Catarina de Albuquerque was the session’s moderator and, after giving participants an overview of the HLM commitments focusing on capacity-building, led the discussion around actionable and prioritized commitments to address the professional capacity gap. Some ideas included communication/marketing campaigns to improve the image of the sector and advocating for a curricula (universities and vocational) that truly serves the needs of the countries.


"Although capacity in the sector is proven to be a main bottleneck, commitments by countries and donors that tackle the problem remain vague and without traction."

-Catarina de Albuquerque, SWA Vice-Chair


Opening Plenary
Tuesday 26 May - 16.00 to 17.30
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A sense of history in the making prevailed over Day 2 of AfricaSan 4. In the morning, the President of Senegal, H. E. Macky Sall led the Opening Plenary, where he urged policymakers and experts gathered at AfricaSan to "identify barriers and explore the best solutions to help improve our policies and sanitation performance". To achieve this, H. E. continued, participants need to "assess the commitments already made, making a critical diagnosis and, in time, learn from them and propose realistic and action-oriented solutions, in the light of the SDG objectives".Catarina de Albuquerque read a Statement on behalf of President John Kufour, SWA’s Chair, and told the Plenary that "the presence of the President [of Senegal] here today indicates the priority given to sanitation in this country". She also joined the President in the official opening of the AfricaSan Exhibition where many SWA partners showcased their projects and initiatives.


"The exchange of experiences and practices will be the building block of AfricaSan 4. I hope your reflections will mark the path towards better management of sanitation-related problems in Africa."

- H. E. Macky Sall, President of Senegal



Session 3/P: “Financing sanitation: achieving 0.5% of GDP”
Tuesday 26 May - 16.00 to 17.30
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The political context of the Plenary gave way to technical discussions, including a session on best practices on influencing decision-makers to increase sanitation prioritisation, put institutional leadership and finance in place, and ensure equitable services delivery. Amanda Marlin presented key learnings from SWA’s global high-level advocacy for finance. She reported feedback from countries that the SWA process, including the High Level Meetings, had paved the way for greater interaction between ministries of finance and sector ministries, higher visibility for sanitation and, in many cases, greater investment.



“We have some great advocacy tools. We need to get out there and use them!”

- Alana Potter, IRC, session moderator"



Side-event 19: HLM and Ngor commitments? What next?
Wednesday 27 May - 12.00 to 13.30
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There was no loss of momentum as the last day of AfricaSan 4 kicked-off. Ten different sessions took place in the morning. Over the lunchbreak, SWA organized a lunch meeting marked by a joint brainstorm between over 60 participants.During the session, SWA partners and other stakeholders thought together about specific advocacy actions around key moments in the upcoming months, such as the release of SWA’s Progress Update Report and the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. Recommendations included the engagement of first ladies and the formation of cross-ministerial committees on WASH.



Session 5: Actions Going Forward and Closing Ceremony
Wednesday 27 May
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On behalf of the Working Group on Post-2015 Advocacy and Communications, Amanda Marlin made a presentation on WASH in the post-2015 development agenda. She outlined the broad, technical consultation which had resulted in a set of clear recommendations for ambitious, yet achievable, WASH targets. She went further to show how these recommendations are well reflected in the current draft Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Her advice was that attention was now shifting to the important issue of what indicators should be used, how the SDGs would be financed and implemented, and the follow up and review process. She called on those present to identify who, within their governments, are responsible for negotiating the SDGs, and to make sure that they champion water, sanitation and hygiene in the upcoming negotiations.The President of AMCOW H.E. Bai Mass Taal then proceeded to read the proposed Ngor Declaration on Sanitation and Hygiene, which was signed by Senegal’s Prime Minister, H.E. Mohammed Dionne during the Closing Plenary. Before calling AfricaSan 4 to an end, the Prime Minister urged participants to return home and ensure the Declaration is turned into action by“strengthening mechanisms at legislative, institutional and regulatory level, and to work for the establishment of a strong coalition to improve the performance of the sanitation sector.”


Read the full declaration here.



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