ESAWAS and WSUP renew partnership to strengthen regulation in Africa

Themes: Regulation Sanitation Utilities WASH Water

The Eastern and Southern Africa Water and Sanitation (ESAWAS) Regulators Association and Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) have agreed new partnership objectives to help strengthen pro-poor regulations across Africa.

Cities in sub-Saharan Africa continue to face a significant challenge of rapid population growth but lack capacity to provide water and sanitation services for the poorest residents. There is a need for improved regulation, and realistic standards to be created to initiate action by service providers to meet the increased demand, especially for sanitation services.

Both ESAWAS and WSUP have identified the importance of stronger regulatory authorities in improving water and sanitation services and the need to promote specific initiatives that would bring benefits to the poorest urban residents and support regulators to introduce these initiatives.

A low-income community in Nairobi. Credit: Brian Otieno

The partners, who have been working together since August 2018, will prioritise research and advocacy to deepen regulation of water and sanitation services in Africa. Collaboration will also include joint actions to support development of strategies, regulations, guidelines and standards to ensure equitable access to all rural and urban populations.

“Safe and inclusive water and sanitation service provision depends on effective regulatory regimes that support service providers to prioritise the poor and the marginalized,” said Neil Jeffery, Chief Executive of WSUP. “Through ESAWAS membership, we have been able to widen our reach by working closely with a number of national regulators in the East and Southern Africa region. This renewed partnership provides a fresh opportunity for WSUP to support current and potential ESAWAS members to serve the millions who lack water and sanitation services in cities in Africa.”

Meanwhile, Kasenga Hara the Executive Secretary of ESAWAS said. “We are glad to continue our collaboration with WSUP that will enable us refine our regulatory tools especially those that aim at improving service delivery in low-income areas of our communities. We look forward to continued knowledge and skills enhancement engagements that equip our members to effectively deliver on their mandates.”

Since 2018, ESAWAS and WSUP have pushed for greater recognition of the role that regulation can play in improving water and sanitation services for the poorest and highlighted specific initiatives that regulators can undertake.

Activities have included:
  • The launch of a joint paper series led by ESAWAS on Citywide Inclusive Urban Sanitation that looks at the functions needed to ensure sanitation systems function safely, at scale and inclusively.
  • The launch of a joint report, entitled, Referee! Responsibilities, regulations and regulating for urban sanitation which outlined six case studies of regulatory initiatives, including sanitation surcharges and pro-poor Key Performance Indicators.
  • Making the case for regulators to address on-site sanitation in order to improve service quality, tackle environmental issues and encourage the private sector operators to enter the market.
  • Highlighting the role of regulation through global and regional WASH conferences and workshops such as the urban WASH Inclusion Masterclass in Maputo and the AfricaSan conference in Durban (FSM4).
  • Capacity development support to ESAWAS member organisations on strengthening non-revenue water management, through a series of webinars hosted by WSUP and ESAWAS teams.

Top image: Aerial view of Beira. Credit: Stand Up Media