Priorities for sustainable water services in Africa

Identifying priority research needs on water management, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in Eastern, Southern and Western Africa.

The challenge

The COVID crisis and ongoing climate change have brought into focus the critical importance of advancing policy and action on sustainable water management, sanitation and hygiene – as part of efforts to achieve Africa’s overall aspirations for its future.

The generation of knowledge that is Africa-centred and speaks to present priority concerns, agendas and evidence needs on WASH among African policy and civil society constituencies is critical for informing and promoting the development of apposite policy and programming on the issue.

A focused, Africa-led effort is required to identify such concerns and needs – and related priority areas for research across Africa’s sub-regions.

What we're doing

Led-by our partners at the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), the Centre for Collaboration in Africa, Stellenbosch University and the AU/NEPAD Southern African Network of Water Centres of Excellence (NEPAD SANWATCE), we are working to develop a focused priority research agenda on WASH to support the achievement of the continent’s overall Social Agenda 2063 aspirations.

Building on the outcomes of an AUC-led co-creation workshop that identified major priority areas for research, we are undertaking a comprehensive mapping of the scientific literature on WASH in East, Central, Southern, West Africa over the last 20 years, and of African Member States reporting of progress on WASH to the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW). Interviews with a number of key informants in the African WASH policy and research space will complement the mapping.

Our findings will inform discussions in a workshop hosted by Stellenbosch University, which will bring together key scholars from East, Southern and West Africa as well as representatives from continental bodies to pinpoint specific priority issues for inquiry and to develop concrete research ideas. A compilation of extant literature on the identified priority issues in each of the three subregions, and active consultation with AMCOW on potential opportunities and concrete plans for research will conclude our project.

How it helps

The identified research agenda, the connections forged with and among relevant African scholars and the engagement with key continental policy bodies, and the mapping and collation of relevant existing literature will provide a firm foundation for the development of proposals for Africa-led and centred inquiry that is directly relevant to- and can help advance the development of policy or programming on sustainable water management, sanitation and hygiene in the continent.

Collaborate with us

If you would like to collaborate with us on similar projects, please contact Isabella Aboderin at the University of Bristol or Dr Nico Elema at the Centre for Collaboration in Africa.


Isabella Aboderin Lead researcher profile

Professor Isabella Aboderin, Perivoli Chair in Africa Research and Partnerships, School for Policy Studies

Nico Elema Partner profile

Dr Nico Elema, Centre for Collaboration in Africa


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