March 13, 2019

MCDI at AfricaSan5: Steps Forward for Sanitation in Africa

Presentation by PAPHyR Communications Officer Fawoziatouh Allade on the PAPHyR learning process.

From February 15 through 23, two members of MCDI's Programme d'amélioration de l'accès à l'Assainissement et des Pratiques d'Hygiè ne en milieu Rural (PAPHyR) project in Benin attended the 5th African Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene, or AfricaSan5, in Cape Town, South Africa. MCDI Chief of Party Yadjide Addisoda and PAPHyR Communications Officer Fawoziatouh Allade attended the conference to represent the work of the Global Sanitation Fund in Benin which MCDI leads through the PAPHyR project. The conference brought together sanitation leaders from throughout Africa to share lessons learned and collaborate on finding innovative solutions to Africa's rural and urban sanitation issues.

During the conference, MCDI's team was able to participate as Benin's key representatives alongside Cojo Pius Gounadon, National Director of Public Health, Felix Adegnika, National Coordinator of the WSSCC and Alain Tossounon, Coordinator of the West African Network of WASH Journalists. MCDI participated in an inter-country dialogue on progress, challenges, and lessons learned in sanitation and hygiene programs. Many countries shared Benin's struggles with low institutional commitment, inadequate public funding for sanitation and the absence of interventions specifically tailored to vulnerable populations. It was noted, though, that countries overall are making strides in private sector and government coordination.

At AfricaSan4 in 2015, the N'gor Declaration on Sanitation and Hygiene was released, which envisioned achieving universal access to adequate and sustainable sanitation and hygiene services and eliminate open defecation by 2030. This year's conference aimed to generate political momentum for sanitation and hygiene as well as provide a pan-African forum to showcase best practices and support problem solving, building on the N'gor Declaration's commitments.

On February 17, MCDI participated in a pre-conference meeting held by the CLTS Knowledge Hub in collaboration with SNV, UNICEF, WaterAid and the Water Sanitation Services Collaborative Council (WSSCC), which administers the Global Sanitation Fund. MCDI's team was able to share its experience on garnering the commitment of local authorities on the prioritization of basic hygiene and sanitation in their municipal budgets. The PAPHyR group learned a great deal from the other countries present, but especially took note of Tanzania's experience in strengthening the institutional and legal framework for sanitation at the municipal level as well as encouraging municipalities to hold fundraising events to build their own sanitation infrastructure.

MCDI participated in several sessions on topics including sanitation marketing and knowledge management in rural sanitation. One of the conference's four main themes included "Hygiene and the Sustainable Development Goals: Leave no one behind," which focuses on bringing vulnerable populations into the hygiene equation. This is reflected in one of the N'gor commitments, but a study of countries' progress on the goals revealed that very little progress has been made in this area. In Benin, the PAPHyR team has worked to include vulnerable groups into their national strategy but have faced difficulties in implementation.

To make vulnerable populations a higher priority, the PAPHyR team took note of several approaches that have been put to use in other countries: mapping of vulnerable populations during community triggering, sanitation marketing contextualized and adapted to the specific needs of vulnerable people, real-time knowledge management between the implementing actors, and using gender-based approaches.

The conference closed with a commitment to increase the visibility of hygiene and sanitation in development programs and to promote excellence and innovation in bold initiatives that inspire governments to take action. In the coming weeks, representatives from the conference will be engaging in advocacy work with the African Union to make hygiene and sanitation a priority in the development agenda. With recommitment to the N'gor Declaration, Africa is continuing on track to achieve its mission of access to sanitation and hygiene services and eliminating open defecation by 2030.

Presentation by the Chief of Party Yadjide Addisoda during the country dialogue at AfricaSan5.

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