The Third African Sanitation and Hygiene Conference was held in Kigali, Rwanda from 19-21 July 2011. It was hosted by the Government of the Republic of Rwanda, a country with amongst the best track records in improvement in sanitation and hygiene on the continent; and the African Minister’s Council on Water, who have appointed a special Sanitation Task Force to promote, track and support improvements in sanitation. 🙂
The meeting in Kigali represents a further consolidation and growth of the AfricaSan movement, initiated in 2002 by African Ministers and supported by partner agencies. The meeting attracted extraordinary interest: over 1000 people registered and nearly 900 people attended from a total of 67 countries, including representatives of 42 African countries. Participants included 23African Ministers and deputy Ministers of Sanitation, Water, Local Government, Health or Infrastructure; and many of the leading thinkers and practitioners in sanitation and hygiene on the continent. Participants represented governments, UN agencies, development banks, local and international civil society organizations, youth groups, gender groups, utilities, local governments and universities. The conference heard over 160 speakers (not including panelists and commentators) in 40 sessions.
His Excellency the President of Rwanda gave the meeting his strong support, graced it with his presence and received a special Award from AMCOW, acknowledging his outstanding personal contribution to the improvement of sanitation and hygiene in Rwanda. The meeting was opened by the Prime Minister of Rwanda ,Right Honourable Bernard Makuza, together with Honourable Minister Samuel S Nkomo, the Vice-President of AMCOW, representing the AMCOW President. 😉
AfricaSanis a successful brandfor a community that is often marginalized from development dialogue and information exchange.It isnot only a periodic conference, butprovides a forumto build momentum and results within the sanitation community in Africa. The build-up to Kigali involved country preparatory meetings in manyAfrican countries. AfricaSan 3 also provided the opportunity for alignment with key global sanitation initiatives, in particular the Sustainable Sanitation: Five year drive announced by the UN Secretary General. Kigali was the launch pad for the African 5 year drive.
The AfricaSan 3 conference objectives were to:
1.Take stock of progress made by African countries since 2008 and the progress needed to meet the MDG on sanitation by 2015, AMCOW’s 2025 targets and national goals.
2.Review progress on implementing the eThekwini Declarationand where needed refinethese commitments. The conference also challenges other stakeholders – including donors, civil society, utilities and local government – to make commitments for action.
3.Share advances in the evidence base on sanitation and hygiene in Africa and assist decision-makers to overcome key blockages in implementing large-scale sanitation and hygiene programs.
4.Support the development of country sanitation and hygiene action plans, and improve their quality, realism and potential for impact through peer-to-peer exchange.
5.Raise the profile of sanitation and hygiene as a determinant of sustainable development; and strengthen leadership and advocacy for sustained sanitation and behavior changes.
Progress Against the Challenge
The conference recognized that the scale of the challenge facing sanitation and hygiene remains formidable. 584 million people in Africa do not have access to safe sanitation services and 231 million people still practice open defecation. The poorest twenty percent are twenty times more likely to defecate in the open than the richest twenty percent. The impact of this “hidden scandal” is devastating to health and quality of life, in particular to the lives of women and girls. Lack of sanitation was likened to mass-destruction. The conference learned of the scale of impact from poor sanitation oneducation, economic growth, productivity, tourism, the environment and the management of infrastructure.
Yet AfricaSan 3 was not a conference of gloom and doom. AfricaSan participants are helping to affect a significant shift towards greater recognition of this hidden problem and finding solutions that work. Conference sessions tackled problems head-on and the spirit was one of strategic and pragmatic action, based on the latest evidence. The conference reported on some significant recent achievements:
•Firstly, the experience of Rwanda – a poor country that has moved dramatically to be on track to meet the MDG in Sanitation – has been a source of inspiration and hope to many. It shows that huge steps in progress can be made with political will, hard work and pragmatism.
•Peer-reviewed action plans are now prepared in 38 African countries, giving clear priority action to get countries back on track to meet the sanitation MDGs and national goals.
•Countries reported good or encouraging progress in three quarters of the targets established in the eThekwini declaration.
•Over 34 countries are tackling the problem of open defecation head on, through adoption of Community-Led Sanitation Programs.
•There is increased recognition that that sanitation improvement involves systemic and behavior changes in parallel with technical innovation.
•Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation launched an important new initiative, “Reinventing the Toilet”, a pro-poor approach to stimulate solving of key blockages to achieving sustainable sanitation. The initiative seeks ways in which Africa can “leapfrog traditional sewerage systems”.
•The conference also learned of the significant untapped potential for a resource-hungry world by using the nutrients and chemicals in waste and excreta to help solving key future challenges, in particular the food crisis.
Ministers attending AfricaSan 3 agreed a statement as follows:
“ We, the ministers attending AfricaSan 3 in Kigali, reaffirm the commitments contained in the eThekwini declaration. We acknowledge the excellent progress made in the region against most of these commitments and recognize the many actions countries have taken using resources mobilized locally.
We further note the many excellent examples of good practice in a number of countries and the value of sharing these experiences through the AfricaSan process.
However we also note that further progress is urgently needed in some countries to establish specific sector budgets and increase funding to the required levels. We note the useful contribution made by Sanitation and Water for All in increasing the profile of sanitation and involving Ministers of Finance in sector discussions.
We also further note that some countries have made slow progress in developing sanitation information systems and that this is a key constraint.
Finally we note that some of the targets do not have measurable indicators and that some indicators may now require updating in view of the progress that has already been made.
We therefore commit to: 😀
(i)Continuing our efforts to meet the e-Thekwini commitments and to accelerate progress to meet the urgent sanitation needs of the region
(ii)To do what we can ‘in our own back yard’
(iii)To support and share experiences and best practices
(iv)To advocate strongly with our colleagues in Ministries of Finance, other sectoral ministries and with our Prime Ministers and Heads of States for continued focus on the sector.
We call on AMCOW to:
(i)Continue to support the sector and the AfricaSAN process
(ii)Redouble its efforts to support us in promoting sanitation to our colleagues in Ministries of Finance and our Heads of State and Prime Ministers.
(iii)Continue a dialogue with the AfDB about the potential to host a regional conference on sanitation financing with Ministries of Finance in Africa.
(iv)Through the Sanitation Task Force to:
a.Review and propose indicators for those targets for which no indicators yet exist where necessary
b.Refine indicators for those targets which have now largely been met
c.Test and consult widely on the proposed new indicators and
d.To report back at the next AfricaSAN meeting using the new proposed indicators.
(v)Continue to report back annually on progress made in the implementation of our commitments.
We call on our Parliamentarians, Ministers of Finance, Prime Ministers and Heads of State to:
(i)Support us in our efforts to continue progress on the vital areas of sanitation and hygiene.
(ii)Engage in creative dialogue regarding the best ways to guarantee the required funding to the sector.
We also call on development partners, civil society and multinational and regional development banks to:
(i)Continue their support to us in our efforts to continue progress on the vital areas of sanitation and hygiene
(ii)Provide access to best practice and knowledge on how to best guarantee and channel the required funding to the sector”
Utility and Local Government Commitments
Utilities and local governments both before and during the conference conducted a dialogue on how to give greater focus to sanitation in the remaining years to 2015. The conference recognized that utilities and local government leadership in sanitation is critical for the improvement and management of services. Utilities and local governments committed themselves to specific actions in five thematic areas :
1.Innovative and affordable sanitation technologies
2.Capacity development and networks
3.Robust sanitation focused policies
5.Regulation, norms and standards
Working in partnership with AMCOW local government representatives proposed to develop mechanisms and ideas for greater involvement of local governments in the Africa Sanitation dialogue and to present proposals at the next African Water Week. Local Government associations and bodies representing local governments need to be fully incorporated into this dialogue. Progress indicators for local government and utilities should be included in future sector monitoring.
A small group of external agencies donor group exchanged views on strategies supporting sanitation in Africa. The discussion applauded governments’ clear priority setting agenda to be helpful to donors when considering investment or support to addressing sanitation Africa. Among the donors present there was a clear pattern to increase support to sanitation in Africa and a general trend towards supporting sanitation approaches which improves services for poorer people. The GLAAS process has increased transparency in being able to track donor’s focus and commitments towards sanitation.
Civil Society Commitments
Africa is fortunate and unique in having in ANEW an active network of networks if civil society that stretches across Africa. ANEW managed a strong process developing core ideas in taking the sector forward and committing themselves to approaches to enhance their support to sanitation . These approaches include:
•Increased focus on equity and inclusion
•Improved planning and monitoring
•Stronger focus on coordination and capacity building
Civil society committed themselves to report on progress against these commitments at future AfricaSan meetings.
Country Action Plans
A major outcome of AfricaSan 3 has been countries’ commitment to defining specific and measurable priority country actions, endorsed by national authorities, to improve performance in the sanitation and hygiene sector. Thirty five countries are developing action plans. Many of the plans recognize the MDGs but take them further to achieving universal access. Key actions include:
•Identifying outstanding policy gaps
•Accelerating the implementation of policies and strategies
•Embedding capacity building into sector strategies and action plans
•Improving management of existing financial resources through better planning, targeting and tracking.
•Continuing to lobby to establish specific budget lines for sanitation for allocations from the national fiscus and as well as sanitation-specific budget lines at local levels.
•Making the case for significant increases in these budgets. In the current economic climate countries recognized the need to make hard-hitting economic arguments for increased resources.
•Moving more quickly from pilot approaches to solutions that can work at scale
•Renewing efforts to develop tracking tools which link performance to budget allocations and establish effective national and local-level monitoring. Several African countries are using mobile web-based technologies to develop and update inventories: these approaches need to be taken to scale.
Countries have committed themselves to six monthly reviews of agreed actions over the next 2 years to be reviewed by sector leaders and submitted to the AfricaSan Task Force.
The conference featured rich and lively sessions on key learning topics identified from country service delivery blockages. Key learning outcomes include:
Recognition of the need for at-scale service delivery in different settlement types:
•Urban sanitation presents one of our most complex challenges. Local governments need to be in the driving seat and their capacity strengthened. Clear urban institutional responsibilities are needed including the role of informal service providers and regulation. Community engagement remains vital in many African cities, but building this into urban processes takes time. A balance needs to be found between in situ upgrading and building new settlements.
•The needs in towns, small and large, vary considerably and require different management options.In just about al cases, towns are experiencing unprecedented rapid population growth. On-sanitation systems are being outpaced in many towns, and what was previously a private matter is now a public sector responsibility. Greater focus on town sanitation is an urgent priority.
•In rural areas, the conference reported significant advances in behavior change and sanitation marketing. The development of CLTS at scale presents a major opportunity in many countries: programs can grow rapidly and the benefits are shared equitably, directly tackling open defecation amongst the poorest populations.
The conference learnt of a growing understanding behavior change. Current approaches are learning more about what motivates change in specific communities and making this the cornerstone of sanitation programs. Much is being learnt from commercial product development processes.
On the supply side, approaches first and foremost need to consider scale and development of an evidence base of what works. Local governments need to clarify their roles and encourage ways of stimulating the private sector. Utilities and local governments should clarify sanitation responsibilities. In order to use the potential of waste as a resource, governments need to champion more holistic approaches to sanitation. The growing Ecosan community are encouraged to imbede their work in governments and extend their reach to communities, the private sector, schools and more African universities. The capturing of phosphorous from urine presents a major opportunity to meet demand for a finite resource. Improving Faecal Sludge Management was identified as a significant new area of learning. FSM need to be incorporated within city-wide systems and effective business models developed and implemented. School sanitation needs to be fully incorporated into school building programs.
The conference also presented sessions to give participants an up-to-date understanding the impacts of neglecting sanitation, affecting equity, economic growth, health and food security and food security.
Tools such as economic modeling of the costs of poor sanitation help make a strong economic case for investing in sanitation. The GDP (Good Dignity Practices) for GDP (Gross Domestic Product) awareness campaign was launched which can translate the economic arguments into advocacy messages. Initial messages include provocative slogans such: “Help Turn Shit into Gold”. Field tests indicate that these daring messages have a considerable impact.
Inequity isa stark feature in traditional sanitation approaches. More evidence is needed to understand this to inform strategies specifically to address equity concerns. The equity session impact session called for improved monitoring of equity in programs and the sector as a whole. Equity indicators should also be incorporated into the monitoring of the eThekwini commitments.
The also addressed many aspects of sector management and financing. Public sector leadership and financing is vital to kick-start large-scale programs. As programs develop, a range of financial approaches need to be considered. Smart use of available finance is often the key to success. A theme of the conference as a whole was captured in the President Kagame’s advice, first to use local finance “ in our own backyards” rather than depend on hand-outs. Long-term sustainability requires appropriate tariff setting for bulk systems and making sanitation attractive to local banks and investors. The limited donor funds available to the sector might be focused on reforming national systems to sustain gains on the ground. Financing strategies were advised to categorize investments into different areas of the value chain and match these with suitable financing. So householders might finance building basic latrines, and different financing streams would finance accessing trunk services, building networks and financing treatment works.
The conference also featured an enthusiastically attended Technical Fairfeaturing enabling the exchange of recent research findings and technical innovations in an informal setting. Full details of these sessions can be found in the full conference report.
Advocacy and Role of the AMCOW Sanitation Task Force
Finally, ministers, agencies and individuals in Kigali commit themselves to disseminating the main messages of AfricaSan 3.
The AMCOW Sanitation Task Force will continue to have the mandate to monitor and support the implementation of contents of this statement, working with all stakeholders, giving regular reports to AMCOW’s EXCO. The STF will also present proposals to AMCOW for future milestones in the AfricaSan movement, including the timing and location of future regional or sub-regional meetings.