Just Sanitation for African Cities Campaign and regional meeting, Nairobi


This initiative was part of the legacy-building from an action-research project I have led with my Development Planning Unit (DPU) hat since 2020. The project is called OVERDUE: Tackling the sanitation taboo across urban Africa and was undertaken with partners from research and civil society organisations, and local communities in the cities of Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Antananarivo (Madagascar), Beira (Mozambique), Bukavu (DRC), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Mwanza (Tanzania) and Saint Louis (Senegal). In a nutshell, OVERDUE’s aimed to produce a 360-degree feminist perspective on how the sanitation service chain works across African cities. The project offers a critical examination of policy promises and investments over time and of contemporary experiences and practices by the majority of women, girls, men and boys who live outside grid systems. It also fostered learning exchanges across the seven cities and strategic interventions across the sanitation service chain.

In July 2023 we held a multilingual co-learning space attended by about 70 participants, including six HIC Africa members and staff. All contributions and resources shared at the co-learning space have been systematised as a repository and can be accessed at: https://overdue-justsanitation.net/outputs/repository/

In parallel we ran a campaign called ‘We Commit Recognise Act Valorise Engender (CRAVE) Just Sanitation for African Cities’, through which the seven cities participating in the project mobilised local communities, their local and regional governments, service utilities and sanitation workers collectives to produce a declaration on the change they want to see, what they commit to do and ask others to do.  HIC Africa members were invited to contribute to the process and on 11-12 September we held a regional meeting in Nairobi to craft together a regional Call for Action.

The Nairobi Regional Meeting was co-organised by OVERDUE in collaboration with HIC, Huairou Commission, SDI, UCLG Africa, the REFELA Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa, ICLEI Africa, SusAnA Africa and WSUP Africa and included the participation of UN-Habitat among other organisations. The meeting was held with simultaneous interpretation in Swahili, Portuguese, French and English. Nine members from HIC Africa actively participated in the meeting: two from DRC (FERAPAD) and Nigeria (WOPA) and the rest from Kenya (Pamoja Trust, KSM Net, Grassroots Trust and At the heart of a woman) including Diana Wachira (HIC GS). All costs were covered by DPU-OVERDUE and the selection of HIC African members who participated from other countries was kindly undertaken by the HIC Board representatives Moussa Ka and Grace Mtonga together with HIC Africa Regional Coordinator Desmond Chieshe. Irene Fuertes from HIC GS supported the Comms campaign. Big thanks to all!

At the Nairobi Regional Meeting, we had 52 participants (including nine mayors and the REFELA President) from all the aforementioned organisations, who together crafted our final Call for Action, which has been so far endorsed by 22 African cities, publicly released after the meeting and shared by the REFELA President with African States and LRGs at the SDG Summit in New York. The meeting and its outcomes were widely covered by the Kenyan and regional media.

This initiative deeply resonates with and articulates many of the key advocacy objectives for which HIC stands for. You can access the Call for Action (in EN and FR) and endorse it at: https://forms.gle/9YPF3xZSS34oYFjQA. I would be grateful if you could actively disseminate among your networks. Endorsements are also welcome from other regions as an expression of solidarity. The aim is to gather as much support as possible to this critical campaign by World Toilet Day on 19 Nov 2023.

If you wish to get further details about the project and campaign, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Big thanks again to all and to those who actively contributed to this campaign, taking a strong feminist perspective to advance transformative change in a critical area for the realisation of the SDGs and of human rights related to habitat and gender equality.

Power to all,

Adriana Allen

Habitat International Coalition (HIC) President