Welcome Message for AfricaSan7 Conference from the African Union Commission

Since entering the new millennium, we have seen the political will to bring sanitation and hygiene to the centre of socio-economic development in Africa. The 2008 Sharm El-Sheikh Declaration by the African Union Heads of State and Government for Accelerating the Achievement of Water and Sanitation Goals in Africa gives it impetus. Consequently, more governments have prioritised water and sanitation at different levels.

These efforts were also augmented by adopting the Ngor Declaration on Sanitation and Hygiene by Ministers and Heads of Delegations responsible for sanitation and hygiene in Africa at the 4th African Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene (AfricaSan4) in 2015. The Ngor Declaration outlines the vision and commitments to achieve universal access to adequate and sustainable sanitation and hygiene services and eliminate open defecation by 2030.

Thanks to all these efforts, the delivery of safely managed sanitation services is improving. The 2022 Annual Report of the AU Commission on the implementation of the July 2008 Assembly Declaration on the Sharm El-Sheikh Commitments for Accelerating the Achievement of Water and Sanitation Goals in Africa has shown an increase in investment towards sanitation and hygiene. The average investment is reported to have risen from 0.1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2021 to 0.25% of GDP in 2022.

However, challenges related to sanitation and hygiene remain. The Water and Sanitation Sector Monitoring and Reporting (WASSMO) System shows that delivery of safely managed sanitation services is yet to reach over 800 million people in Africa. COVID-19 also exposed Africa’s slow progress towards attaining sanitation and hygiene for all, raising the urgent need for action.

The AfricaSan7 conference, therefore, provides an opportunity for Africa to take stock of the progress made so far. Also, it will present the platform to look strategically at what we should do differently to achieve the sanitation targets, in line with the Agenda 2063: The Africa We All Want. There is an urgent need to revitalise commitments at all levels, including at sub-national, national, regional, and continental levels and by all stakeholders including the African Union Commission, member states, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), and our development partners, as well as the private sector, to further accelerate actions to achieve sanitation goals in Africa.

This year’s conference theme, “Strengthening systems and partnership for accelerated action on safely managed sanitation and hygiene”, reminds us of the importance of partnership to achieve the desired change.

I therefore invite all Member States, RECs, Partners, the private sector and civil society organisations in the water, sanitation, hygiene, and related sectors to plan and attend AfricaSan7 in Swakopmund, Namibia. We can shape and help set the strategic direction for sanitation and hygiene in Africa.

H.E. Amb. Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko,
Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment,
African Union Commission

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