Without a sharp acceleration in the rate of progress, the world will miss the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) sanitation target by half a billion people. For instance, in sub-Saharan Africa almost two-thirds of the population (64%) lack adequate access to excreta disposal facilities. In African countries the sanitation coverage varies from 84% in urban areas to 45% in rural areas. To achieve the year 2015 goal for urban water supply coverage an additional 210 million people over the next 15 years will have to be provided with the service. In the case of rural areas, the additional number of people reaches 194 million.
The proposed Coordination Action, aimed to bring together the most relevant stakeholders in the field of sustainable sanitation in Sub-Saharan African and Europe. NETSSAF promoted international cooperation between research organisations, associations, universities, and social and governmental stakeholders in a European and Sub-Saharan African context, focussed in particular in the West African countries.
A sustainable sanitation expert and research co-ordination platform, and an expertise network, were established in order to co-ordinate, assess and guide suitable research and strategic activities with the aim of identifying best practices, gaps in knowledge and barriers to further execution, and to propose directions for futures research. The aim of the proposed network was to develop a variety of innovative, adaptable and replicable approaches to sustainable sanitation, integrating appropriate low-cost technologies with community-based management and their relevant governance, institutional frameworks and socio-economic constraints. The main outcome was the development of a Participative Multi-stakeholder Sanitation Management Support Tool aimed for the end-users to be able to apply large-scale sanitation concepts and technologies adapted to the different conditions prevailing in Africa.