Without a sharp acceleration in the rate of progress, the world will miss the MDG sanitation target by half a billion people, with a number of regions around the world lagging behind. For instance, in Sub-Saharan Africa almost two-thirds of the population (64%) lack adequate access to excreta disposal facilities (World Bank, 2002). In global terms, the continent contains 13% of the world’s population without access to improved sanitation, only Asia having a lower access (see Fig. 1). Nonetheless, in many African countries, no access to improved sanitation means no access to any sanitation facility at all, with sanitation coverage varying from 84% in urban areas to 45% in rural areas (WHO, 2000).
The African population is expected to increase by 65% over the next 25 years, presenting a huge challenge to services in the region. Therefore, to achieve the 2015 goal for urban water supply coverage – halving the percentage of those without access – an additional 210 million people over the next 15 years will have to be provided with necessary services. In rural areas, an estimated additional 194 million people will need to have access to sanitation in order to meet the target.
In order to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg related to drinking water and sanitation, the European Union launched a Water Initiative (EUWI) in 2002 to establish an integrated approach to water resources management. Besides this common initiative, an increasing number and variety of European cooperation sanitation projects are currently carried out in Africa, making it difficult to follow recent developments and maintain an overview of current trends and practices across the region. Therefore, there is still a need for positive synergies, aiming at the cross-fertilisation of ideas, which could fortify the different actions and the scope of those local activities through the integration of different key actors and stakeholders in a multidisciplinary and international approach.
In accordance with the objectives of the Cooperation Strategy of the European Community, and aiming for the preparation of the technical and organisational foundation for massive implementation of sanitation facilities in Africa, the general objective of the proposed Coordination Action "Network for the development of Sustainable Approaches for large scale implementation of Sanitation in Africa" NETSSAF was:
As a multidisciplinary network, NETSSAF promoted international cooperation between research organisations, universities, associations, NGOs and social stakeholders (Ministries, Municipalities, Water and Sanitation Authorities) in a Euro-African context, which are devoted to the research, development and implementation of innovative sanitation concepts. It aimed for the coordination of efforts and the exchange of knowledge to promote the development of innovative methods and low-cost technologies that enhance the application of adapted sustainable sanitation on a massive scale, taking into account the different physical and socio-economic conditions prevailing in Africa.
A sustainable sanitation research co-ordination platform and an expertise network were established, in order to define, organise and manage common initiatives. These co-ordinated, assessed and guided suitable research and strategic activities with the aim of providing the foundation for wide-spread implementation of sustainable sanitation installations in West Africa. NETSSAF was the forum for discussion and the joint work of Expert Groups, who assembled during workshops and seminars to carry out different tasks, and case studies and analysis in the following areas:
Appropriate low-cost sanitation technologies
Potential reuse in agriculture
Community based management in Africa
Governance and Institution in Sanitation