AfricaSan is one of AMCOW’s path-breaker initiatives born out of the recognition that investment in sanitation has historically been seriously neglected on our continent and that addressing Africa’s sanitation challenge involves mobilizing facts and arguments and helping agencies and governments shape strategies for action at many levels. AfricaSan, therefore, provides a forum for sanitation technical experts to exchange lessons to identify approaches and technologies that work best in their local circumstances. AfricaSan is a highly successful brand helping the realization of the eThekwini Commitments. As part of the AfricaSan drive, the AfricaSan Awards was introduced in 2008.
The 1st AfricaSan conference was hosted in Johannesburg by the then South African Minister of Water, Ronnie Kasrils, with 12 fellow African Ministers. Held just before the World Summit on Sustainable Development, it helped to build the groundswell which achieved the inclusion of sanitation as a specific MDG target. The concept of a political, technical, mobilizing event focusing on specifically on sanitation caught the imagination and concept was replicated in South Asia, Latin America and East Asia.
Five years later, AfricanSan 2 was a bigger, more inclusive event, hosted by AMCOW and other partners. AfricaSan attracted 32 African Ministers and produced the eThekwini declaration which makes 11 important commitments by African governments to improve the performance of the sanitation and hygiene sector. The eThekwini declaration was subsequently endorsed by Heads of State at the 2008 AU Summit in the Sharm el Sheikh Declaration and has been reaffirmed in subsequent declarations such as the Libreville Declaration on Health and the Environment in Africa.
AfricaSan 3 Conference was held in Kigali, Rwanda and demonstrated that AfricaSan has become a global brand with extraordinary interest: over 900 attended from a total of 67 countries, including representatives of 42 African countries. Participants included 23 African Ministers and Deputy Ministers in charge of Sanitation, Water, Local Governments, Health, or Infrastructure; and many of the leading thinkers and practitioners in sanitation and hygiene on the continent. AfricaSan3 received the highest political support from the government of Rwanda with His Excellency the President of Rwanda gracing the AfricaSan Awards with his presence and receiving a special Award from AMCOW, acknowledging his outstanding personal contribution to the improvement of sanitation and hygiene in Rwanda. 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 where the drive was launched.