African elected local authority leaders commit to improve access to adequate sanitation services across their cities

22 February 2019

Sustainable development action tank convenes local leaders and stakeholders at international sanitation conference, AfricaSan and FSM5

20 February 2019, CAPE TOWN – Mayors and local authority representatives from across Africa have made new commitments to improving local sanitation systems and ending open defecation by 2030.

At the AfricaSan 5 conference, part of the 5th Faecal Sludge Management conference (FSM5) in Cape Town, African city leaders pledged to extend adequate sanitation and hygiene to all citizens, one of the key UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These commitments were made at a meeting convened by the Africa Water Association (AFWA), the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) and Speak Up Africa.
Prior to the meeting, Councillor Nompumelelo Sithole from the e-Thekwini municipality in South Africa and Ms. Blanche Akouala, President of the Regional Council of Haut-Plateaux in the Republic of the Congo presented key-note speeches on the importance of South-South cooperation. One of the key issues discussed was the need for local authorities to establish and maintain platforms to exchange on matters specific to water and sanitation issues. A total of 30 local authority leaders participated in the forum, including the mayors of Tagandougou (Mali), Kampala (Uganda), and Dakar (Senegal).

His Worship Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago of Kampala commented: “It is sad to see that open-air defecation is still a major issue on our continent. We need to work to build a strong institutional framework for cities and municipalities to tackle sanitation problems.”

The meeting also saw participants discuss sanitation challenges, the urgent need for more progress and the increasingly important role local authorities can and should be playing in solving sanitation problems. In line with the 2015 Ngor Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals, the local leaders committed to a range of actions, including:

– Incorporating gender inclusive and equitable sanitation strategies into their municipalities’ strategic plans
– Establishing and maintaining a dialogue between Mayors and local representatives around urban sanitation challenges
– Working with sanitation experts at the city level to ensure customer satisfaction of sanitation and hygiene products and services
– Developing an overall vision aligned to the SDGs at a local level, that provides the sector with a clear joint framework to operate in
Access to adequate sanitation is currently a significant challenge for most African countries, with only 17% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa having access to improved sanitation services.

Yacine Djibo, Founder & Executive Director, Speak Up Africa said: “Today, one in three people still live without adequate sanitation facilities, a number which rises to 75% in West Africa. AfricaSan presents a fantastic platform to engage local authorities around this issue, keeping them accountable to contributing to the development of cities and urban areas with good sanitation systems. By improving sanitation and management services, we will also improve health, economic productivity and equality across the continent.”

Sylvain Usher, Executive Director, African Water Association (AfWA) said: “For our part, the AfWA cannot but rejoice because from now on it can count on the involvement of these powerful actors – the mayors and local elected representatives – to better ensure their mandate. The problems related to access to water and sanitation services are first and foremost local; the best diagnosis can only be made locally, and appropriate solutions are to take into ac-count local specificities.”

About AfricaSan & FSM5
The concept of AfricaSan5 is to generate political momentum for sanitation and hygiene as well as provide a pan-African forum to showcase best practices and support problem solving. AfricaSan5 is partnering with the 5th International Fecal Sludge Management (FSM) Conference to deliver a uniquely rich blend of political dialogues and knowledge exchanges. Specifically, Afri-caSan5 featured country and multi-sector dialogues, interactive technical sessions, exhibition fairs, and the AMCOW AfricaSan Awards. The outcomes will give impetus towards achieving commitments from the previous AfricaSan Conference—the Ngor Declaration on Sanitation and Hygiene—in which African countries and partners committed to accelerate access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation in Africa by 2030. Find out more at

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