Participation at Africa San-4, 25th - 27th May 2015 at Dakar, Senegal

Mr Rahul Sanka Varma and Mr Bhitush Luthra, from Water Programme CSE, participated at AfricaSan conference in Dakar, Senegal.

It is one of AMCOW’s (African Ministers Council on Water)  path breaking  initiative to promote political prioritization of sanitation and hygiene, attended by ministers responsible for sanitation and the key agencies (BMGF, EC, WaterAid, UsAid, World bank, WHO, UNICEF, IRC, GIZ, IWA, WSUP, SWA, UNSGAB, WSSCC etc.) working in sanitation and water in Africa. 

Theme of the conference

“Making Sanitation for all a reality in Africa”


To assist African countries 

  • To achieve universal access to improved sanitation

  • To adopt good hygienic behavior

  • To improve service management across the whole value chain

  • To eliminate open defecation

It was a three day conference with parallel sessions. The Plenary sessions were based on Joint monitoring programme, UN-water global analysis and assessment of sanitation and drinking-water and The 2014 Africa Water and Sanitation Sector reports. These reports compare the progress of African nations with respect to eThekwini commitments/Assembly Declaration at Sharm El Sheikh/Kigali action plan etc. Majority of countries claimed to have progressed on various themes, as stated in declaration, but at a very slow rate, hence there was a need to accelerate. 

Key points of the conference:

  • Africa has progressed from 56% of water supply coverage in 1990 to 65% in 2013, and therefore reduced the percentage of the population without access to water supply by 21% compared to the target of 50% for the MDGs by 2015 

  • More than 340 million Africans are still lacking potable water

  • More than 547 million Africans lack access to basic sanitation, only nine countries reported to be on track to for achieving MDG for sanitation

  • Since 2000 open defecation has dropped by a quarter, but progress on sanitation in Africa is slow

  • Though it is good to have commitments and targets but many countries fail to monitor progress as they have very weak/ no baseline data

  • Contribution of rainwater to the total municipal water consumption accounted for only 1.49% in the continent in 2013, compared to the set target of 10% by the year 2015. Except Kenya, Sudan and Central African Republic, no other country is able to achieve this target.

  • A key constraint, raised by most of the countries, is the inadequacy of the current level of funding, domestic or otherwise, to the sub-sector. A great deal of effort is required to translate into action the various commitments/declarations, for e.g. eThekwini declaration says allocation of 0.5% of GDP to sanitation and hygiene

  • A total expenditure of US$ 18.48 billion in the water and sanitation sector in Africa was reported for the year 2013, compared to requirement of US$ 50 billion determined by AfDB and AMCOW

  • Best management practices were shared from around the world; Behavioural change campaign SuperAmma in Tamil nadu and in Bangladesh was shared by distinguished speakers

  • In the closing session the draft ministerial declaration was shared. From eThekwini Commitment to Ngor Declaration, the focus is shifted to means of implementation, follow-up and review, indicators and financing.

SFDs (Faecal Waste Flow Diagrams often called Shit Flow Diagrams) are state-of-the-art visualization tools for advocacy and decision support that can be easily understood by non-technical stakeholders and civil society. SFDs have the potential to shift the focus of attention, money and activities towards more effective and inclusive urban sanitation and more efficient investments. 

It was emphasized that though sanitation is a local subject, still major funding comes from centre and state in India, hence there is a need for developing SFDs at different scales (National, state and city) to influence the decision makers at all scale. The SFD Promotion Initiative is currently testing the approach in 50 cities worldwide (11 cities in India) and will disseminate the results via web portal on the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) platform later this year.

Other speakers at the session included Arne Panesar, GIZ; Peter Hawkins, WSP; Sebastian Mgeta, Moshi Municipal Council; Lars Schöbitzand, EAWAG.

On behalf of CSE, Mr Bhitush Luthra participated as the panelist on session “SFD – a tool to boost urban sanitation” held on 27th May 2015 – a side event at AfricaSan-4 at Dakar, Senegal.The objective of this event was to introduce the SFD Promotion Initiative to practitioners and decision-makers contributing to a wider rollout of the approach. 

During this visit, the CSE team also attended the third face-to-face meeting of the SFD project, after the AfricaSan Conference, in Dakar, Senegal, on May 28 and 29, 2015, which  took place at Hotel King Fahd Palace.  For more information on the SFD project, please visit:

This was followed by a field visit on May 30, 2015 to a  faecal sludge treatment plant, an extension to wastewater treatment plant at Dakar, where the Omni-processor is also installed. At the faecal sludge treatment plant nearly 50 trucks deliver faecal sludge every day, and then sludge is dewatered and sun dried into cakes. It takes almost 3 weeks for sludge to convert into cakes. 

The processor can produce 11m3 of drinking water and 125 kW of electricity by consuming 12.3 m3 of sludge per day. There’s a PLC system with around 200 sensors to keep a check on all the parameters at each stage. For more information on the working of the plant visit: 

There’s a future plan of developing a processor at a larger scale which can even take care of solid waste and produce water for horticulture purpose. Not treating the water to potable level would help them reduce capital investment.