By Yacine DJIBO, Executive Director of Speak Up Africa
What does the 9th World Water Forum mean to Speak Up Africa?
The 9th World Water Forum is of capital importance for the sanitation sector, and as the theme expresses it, it is “forum of responses.” It represents a platform where all key sector stakeholders, including decision-makers, civil society organizations, the media, the private sector and communities to reflect on tailored solutions and disseminate innovations that can contribute to resolve water and sanitation challenges.
The 9th World Water Forum will be hosted in Dakar, Senegal; it is the first time that an event of this scale will be organized in sub-Saharan Africa. the continent. It is an opportunity to showcases solutions, innovations and best practices made in Africa. In addition, this edition of the Forum offers an opportunity to highlight the political engagement in favor of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). More importantly, it will provide a space to raise challenges and discuss progresses made in the process to improve access to quality WASH services across the continent.
The Forum will be the occasion to present initiatives such as the Africa Sanitation Policy Guidelines (ASPG) Initiative led by the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW). The ASPG will support African States in the review or development of inclusive and comprehensive sanitation policies. That way, countries will be able to develop and implement policies that respond to their realities and contexts. Initiatives such as the ASPG contribute to the creation of the enabling environment necessary to achieve universal access to safely managed sanitation with special attention to the needs of women and girls, and those in vulnerable situations.
For the sanitation community, we have high expectations as for the outcomes of this World Water Forum edition. The entire community will have access to a platform to showcase progress in the sector, and to highlight the need for policy change and creation of an enabling environment for sanitation. We hope that it will be the steppingstone towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa.
How is Speak Up Africa involved in the preparatory process and organization of the Forum?
Speak Up Africa is a policy and advocacy action tank dedicated to catalyzing leadership, enabling policy change, and increasing awareness for sustainable development in Africa. We work to increase awareness, prioritization and commitment to improve access to adequate and equitable sanitation for all in Africa. As an organization based in Dakar, Senegal it was important for Speak Up Africa to engage in the Forum’s preparation and to support all efforts to ensure the event’s success.
Speak Up Africa has been contributing to the preparatory process since the very beginning. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with World Water Forum Secretariat formalizing our collaboration on several levels, namely with the strategic communications and key stakeholder engagement, as well as with the creation of the Sanitation Village. The Sanitation Village is of high importance, as it will be a space entirely dedicated to sanitation innovations and initiatives. Speak Up Africa is also dedicated to support the engagement of key institutional stakeholders such as parliamentarians. The 9th World Water provides a dialogue and exchange space that will be maximized with strong stakeholder representation.
Speak Up Africa also provides technical support to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the coordination of the Action Group 1.A, one of the groups in charge of organizing thematic sessions. Action Group 1.A focuses on implementing the right to water and sanitation. Thematic sessions contribute to shaping the outcomes of the Forum, therefore, to ensure concrete resolutions and partnerships are made, it is crucial to provide momentum for the right topics and issues to be discussed.
How would you assess the potential impact of the Forum?
The impact of Forum could be assessed based on the concrete actions taken during and after the event. All key stakeholders will be represented during this Forum, it will be the time for actors including decision-makers, the private sector, civil society organizations, the media and communities to share different perspectives on how WASH challenges can be resolved. It will be a moment to amplify communities’ voices on their needs in terms of access to safely managed WASH services.
The Forum attendees will also include other sectors such as health and finance, and this will allow to assess challenges and solutions from a larger overview. The Covid-19 pandemic has stressed the importance for sectors to mutualize their efforts and resources for greater results. It will be the opportunity to look at access to WASH services in an integrated manner and find tailored and targeted solutions.
The 9th World Water Forum will be the platform to rethink how we approach challenges, and how we adapt best practices and initiatives to our different contexts and build strong partnerships and multisectoral approaches. Most importantly, it will be the opportunity for Heads of State and other decision-makers to make tangible commitments to further prioritize WASH services, in terms of financial and human resources. The Forum can provide the responses needed to achieve equity and sustainability in access to water, sanitation and hygiene in Africa and beyond.
About Speak Up Africa
Headquartered in Dakar, Senegal, Speak Up Africa is a Policy and Advocacy Action Tank dedicated to catalyzing leadership, enabling policy change, and increasing awareness for sustainable development in Africa. Through our platforms and relationships and with the help of our partners, we ensure that policy makers meet implementers; that solutions are showcased and that every sector – from individual citizens and civil society groups to global donors and business leaders – contributes critically to the dialogue and strives to form the blueprints for concrete action for public health and sustainable development.