From the 28th-31st of October (2019), the Kenya Sanitation Conference aimed to bridge the gap, moving towards accelerated access to improved sanitation. Held in Nairobi, the conference brought stakeholders from all WASH cadres who elicited a lot of passion and drive for contributing towards the conference’s main goal: sanitation for all. As FINISH Mondial, this was a noble opportunity to contribute to the favourable course by showcasing the innovative interventions in the area of improved sanitation services. In case you missed it, here are 4 key takeaways from the conference:
(1) INNOVATION: From the many side talks, presentations and sessions, one term could be heard buzzing consistently: innovation. As stakeholders, everyone was keen to break out of the norm. Innovative approaches spanning across the whole sanitation service and value chains were showcased. As FINISH, we were not left behind, as we were able to show how we’ve been accelerating and scaling access to improved sanitation through financial inclusion and sanitation business development.
Ideally, we all long for improved sanitation but without financing options, this will remain a tall order. Financial inclusion and business development hence emerge as the key approaches to triggering a community’s ability to invest in sanitation—a sector which, for a very long time, has been considered a preserve of the government. Over the last six years, the FINISH focus on financing and business development has translated into over 1 million households accessing improved sanitation through loans (yielding 1 million toilets constructed with over 5 million beneficiaries). As FINISH, we were also keen to spot innovations for improved sanitation service delivery. In a nutshell, innovation in the WASH sector is a springboard towards Sustainable Development Goal 6 (clean water and sanitation) which must be embraced by all, however small the innovation may seem.
(2) LEVERAGING: “You have it and I don’t have it? Alright, why can’t we join our hands, share our resources and reach even more.”
That was how leveraging shaped most discussions at the conference. With a goal of maximizing the output, various stakeholders were in high spirits to hand-hold each other (both in technology and finance) for expanded access to sanitation. Leveraging is also essential for bridging the gap between the private investors, the public and nongovernmental organizations, with the emergence of social enterprises in sanitation. The fact that sanitation requires joint effort has lately left loop in financial support to the already-existing programmes for accelerated impact. In FINISH programme, our belief in blended sanitation financing continues to elicit a lot of private sector investors who are willing to add a little investment in sanitation.
(3) PARTNERSHIPS: Partnership and multi-sectoral engagement emerged as an essential propeller to sustainable sanitation improvement. Through FINISH Mondial, the public-private partnership remains our principle model. The Kenya Sanitation Conference evidently amplified the value of partnership for process acceleration and lasting foundation-setting on WASH matters. Key to this, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (as the organizers of the event) overwhelmingly appreciated the role of partnerships in the universal access to sanitation. We appreciate the fact that alone, we are never enough for the mission ahead of us—making improved sanitation for all, a reality by 2030. We constantly seek for opportunities to partner with both private and public partners in the whole sanitation and waste management value chain from latrine construction to safe containment, collection, transportation, treatment and reuse of faecal sludge. From the side discussions during the conference, we were able to envision on-boarding new partners while further strengthening existing ones.
(4) POLICIES: Finally, the bull in the house was on policy-making. Guided by the current bottlenecks, effective and inclusive policies are essential. There is a glaring gap in policies to guide and streamline acceleration of universal sanitation. The conference also highlighted the insufficiency of existing policies.
Cognizant of this, the FINISH Mondial team convened a session themed
“Building effective policies and guidelines for scaling of feacal sludge management in East Africa.” The session elicited an intriguing discussion that looked at the whole sanitation value chain and beyond (e.g. addressing cross-cutting sectors like smart agriculture through co-compost utilization). As FINISH, we’re delving into and leading discussions on feacal sludge in Kenya (and beyond!) with a unifying goal of empowering a more complete circular economy through sanitation and feacal sludge management.
Concisely, the Kenya Sanitation Conference was a success and a great milestone towards unifying the stakeholders and their efforts for a common goal of universal access to sanitation. Guided by the key thematic areas mentioned herein, we are obliged to take the SDG 6 ambitions to the next level. We hereby call upon all to join us in this noble and universal quest.
Up to this point we say thank you to the organizers, our partners, potential partners who provoked and engaged with us during the conference. And most importantly our team for a wonderful showcasing experience in Nairobi Kenya. Our strength is in our partnerships!
by Charles Were, Technical Adviser, FINISH Mondial in Kenya