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African Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW)

In this article, From Prof. Edward Kairu, ANEW Chairman addresses matters arising on the recent  resignation of ANEW’s Executive Secretary

  1. 1. Apologies for late release of this message

First of all, I would like to apologize for the late release of this statement from your chairman. The main reason for the delay was that I realized that I needed to have many more consultations before I could inform you on where things were in ANEW. Nb I will ask the ANEW Secretariat have this message translated into French as soon as possible and distribute to our francophone brothers and sisters.

  1. 2. Strong ownership of ANEW by its membership

As I write to you, I would like to start by noting that over the years, our network – ANEW – has become a strong Pan African network with over 300 members in 40 countries in Africa. Furthermore, our network is now formally recognized by all the key partners in water and sanitation sector, as shown here below.

Over the last several months, I have been very impressed with the overwhelmingly strong ownership of our network – ANEW.  This shows the whole world that you the members of ANEW own our esteemed network and that you will go to great lengths to protect it. As your chairman, I am extremely delighted by this strong indication of ownership. As a way forward, I would urge all of you – members of ANEW – to continue with this spirit of ownership, since in the long run, it will be the surest way to attain our vision.

  1. 3. Key achievements of ANEW to date

I would like to highlight a few key achievement that ANEW has made to date, as follows:

  • ANEW is now a strong civil society network made up of members with improved capacity, commitment and willingness to share their experiences and lessons as well as to engage with other sector actors;
  • Recognition by all the key stakeholders in the water and sanitation sector e.g. Global Water Partnership, Water and Sanitation Programme – Africa, African Development Bank, and the African Union.  Of special note, is the fact that ANEW has signed a landmark MoU with AMCOW. This means that ANEW is a strategic civil society partner for AMCOW;
  • ANEW initiated the formation of and/or supported national ANEW platforms in Tanzania, Kenya and supported the process in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Burundi, Togo, Zambia, DRC, and Chad;
  • ANEW provided capacity building to many of you means of using your national platforms; and
  • As a result of the above mentioned achievements at the ANEW national level, as of December 2010, ANEW had a total of 22 national networks whose members have been supported and strengthened to conduct effective advocacy at different levels. In addition, ANEW has also provided guidance and leadership to the RECs (Regional Economic Communities) with their national and regional level capacity building initiatives.
  • To date, ANEW has a ‘permanent’ seat in different forums and events due to the said achievements and the personal efforts and networking skills of the former Executive Secretary – Jamillah Mwanjisi.

Notwithstanding the above achievements, ANEW has also encountered the following challenges:

  • Disconnect between the ANEW board and the ANEW membership. This is a situation which will need to be addressed immediately;
  • Having to run national networks with young staff without sufficient experience and therefore depending a lot on ANEW Secretariat. Needless to say, ANEW Secretariat has found it challenging to support all the networks and to meet the expectations;
  • Inadequate fund raising to sustain all the financial needs of the network;
  • Regrettably, networking and ANEW representation took a lot of the former Executive Secretary’s time away from the day to day management of the organization. The board tried to rectify this by hiring a Programs Manager but yet this move did not succeed very well due to the design of the job description for the Programme Manager – which was to a large extent bent towards the GTF project (Governance and Transparency Fund) which was funded by DfID through Water Aid. There is therefore a need to review this arrangement with a view to separating the management issues from the advocacy and networking functions of the Executive Secretary.
  1. 4. Status of Jamillah’s employment with ANEW

I would like to state categorically that:

  • Jamillah was NOT forced out of her job by anybody i.e. not by the board or for that matter by the Chairman of ANEW. It was her express decision. As a matter of fact, this last week, I tried quite a lot to get her to reverse her decision but without success;
  • Having said that, I would be the first person to admit that there were some challenges between Jamillah and the board of ANEW. But for those of us who have worked in similar positions, you would know that this is a fairly common phenomenon.
  • For now, I would advise that we all respect Jamillah’s decision to move on. She has assured me that she will be available should ANEW need her advice.
  1. 5. Status of other ANEW employees

By the time the EU Water Facility funded project came to an end in October 2010, ANEW had in its employment 4 Regional Coordinators, One Information / Communication Officer, One Project Manager as well as 2 junior officers attached to the ANEW Secretariat. As a result of the strategic evaluation which was concluded by INTRAC in December 2010, it was made clear that the sub regional level of ANEW presence in Africa was superfluous at this point in ANEW’s growth (see section 9 here below). This fact, coupled with the challenges of getting sufficient funds to pay for the salaries of the Sub Regional Managers, made the ANEW board discontinue the employment of the said 4 Sub Regional Managers with effect from 31st October 2010.

There is one more thing that needs to be noted about the contractual arrangement under which ANEW had recruited the Sub Regional Managers. These staff members were issued employment contracts by their respective implementing partners in the relevant sub region. In which case, managing the team from the ANEW Secretariat was at times challenging since legally the Sub Regional Managers were not employees of ANEW. Furthermore, these staff had competing demands from ANEW as well as their respective hosting partner, in the end making them feel that they were reporting to two bosses. It also made the Executive Secretary feel powerless and far removed as far as the team was concerned.  Consequently, as we go forward, ANEW will need to reconsider this arrangement to ensure that there is a single management and reporting structure to avoid potential conflicts and confusion.

  1. 6. Replacement of Jamillah

In the immediate term, and in consultation with the ANEW board, I have had talks with Baker Matovu – who was the former East African sub regional ANEW Manager, to act in place of Jamillah. Before Baker joined ANEW, he had worked with Water Aid Uganda for more than 4 years. More importantly, for the last 2 years, Baker has worked closely with Jamillah and the ANEW board as well as many of you. Nb given the fact that Baker had already gone back to Uganda (his home country), I was only able to get him to come back to Nairobi two days ago. On the same day he arrived here at ANEW Secretariat, I chaired a hand over meeting between Jamillah and Baker. I would like to note that the hand over report that we got from Jamillah was quite comprehensive.

At the same time, as soon as we are able to put in place the necessary modalities in place, ANEW will engage in a thorough recruitment process for the appointment of the next Executive Secretary. I will ensue that the advertisement for this job is well distributed all over Africa. Indeed, I would like to take advantage of this communication to encourage all of you who are qualified, to apply for the position once it is advertised. For now, as your chairman, I can tell you that the following qualifications, amongst others, will be extremely vital for the holder of the future ANEW Executive Secretary position:

  • Bilingual skills i.e. French and English competence
  • Demonstrable experience in fund raising
  • Advanced skills in advocacy and communication
  • Experience in working with the key water and sanitation stakeholders in Africa and beyond
  1. 7. Fund raising initiatives

Needless to say, fund raising is now a top priority for ANEW. Fortunately, ANEW has quite a number of funding agencies that are happy to discuss potential funding partnership. To that end, ANEW Secretariat is currently working or making follow ups on the following funding proposals:

WaterAid: Water Aid has granted ANEW transition Funds for 5 months i.e. November 2010 to March 2011. Indeed, for most of December 2010, Jamillah and the ANEW Chairman were working on the necessary concept paper, budget and action plan. This request for 5 months support was approved in December 2010. The success of securing additional funds from Water Aid will, to a strong degree, depend on the extent to which ANEW demonstrates adherence to the terms of funding, as well as delivery of the agreed actions.

Africa Water Facility: A detailed proposal was submitted to AWF back in August 2010. The proposal was positively considered and the Secretariat was asked to streamline the activities and budget in line with what AWF intends to achieve. In the last meeting that was held in November 2010 during the Africa Water Week, AWF suggested that ANEW cuts down the budget to € 500,000 and the number and frequency of activities to focus on the role of CSOs in ensuring the implementation of the rights to water and sanitation following the endorsement by UN. Nb. Prof. Kairu has secured an appointment to discuss this proposal and other matters in Tunis, during the first week of February 2011. However, as I am sure you would agree, travelling to Tunis might not be possible for the next couple of weeks.

UN Habitat – in 2010, several meetings were held with UN habitat team to establish areas of partnership. Finally, it was agreed that ANEW focuses on equity mapping particularly to build the capacity of CSOs.  Since this was a new venture for both ANEW and UN Habitat, it was agreed we seek the services of Nottawasaga Institute (NI) to design a pilot project in selected countries to strengthen the capacity of CSO and governments to monitor access to water and sanitation. A concept note for the pilot project was developed with the support of NI and submitted to UN Habitat. ANEW held a significant follow up meeting on this possibility on 28th January 2011.

SUWASA – In December 2010, two project descriptions were submitted to SUWASA to be considered in their second round of project appraisals. ANEW was informed that the proposals were still being reviewed. Baker and Prof. Kairu will follow up with Denis Mwanza of SUWASA on this potential source of funds in February 2011

WSSCC – ANEW held several discussions with WSSCC exploring areas of partnership but nothing has been finalized yet. Therefore in February 2011, ANEW Secretariat will make the necessary follow up proposing areas of collaboration which may include strengthening the links and capacity of ANEW national networks and the WASH forums that are supported by WSSCC. Implementing the rights to water and sanitation is another area that WSSCC is interested in.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: In December 2010, two ANEW board representatives (Essam Nada and Prof Kairu) as well as Jamillah met a representative of Bill Gates Foundation during the 3rd Africa Water Week in Addis Ababa. The Foundation representative informed ANEW that her organization was soon starting an advocacy programme. She thought that there might be partnership possibilities. Baker and Prof. Kairu are already making the necessary follow up on this during January 2011.

AMCOW- given the fact that AMCOW already has an MoU with ANEW, the onus is on ANEW to make the necessary follow up. The initial activities in this respect will be to examine the 3 years AMCOW Work Programme which was approved in Addis Ababa in December 2010 with a view to highlighting the areas where ANEW is best placed to intervene. As of January 2011, Prof. Kairu is seeking an appointment with the new AMCOW President (the Honourable Minister for Water and Environmental Affairs in South Africa) to enlist her support for ANEW in this matter. It should be noted that back in April 2010, ANEW held a very successful round table meeting with AMCOW during which AMCOW expressed its desire to work with ANEW. Similar reassurances were given by AMCOW in Addis Ababa in December 2010. Recently in Paris, during the preparatory meeting for the 6th World Water Forum which will take place in March 2012, AMCOW gave a similar confirmation.

  1. 8. Need for Special General Meeting/ Bi-Annual General Meeting

I start off by noting the right of every ANEW member to call for a special general meeting as provided for in our Constitution. However, having done so, I would like to note that in my opinion, calling for such a meeting at this point in time is likely to harm ANEW more than it will build it. For me, the key things to do now would be to implement the 5 months worth of activities that have already been funded by Water Aid as best as we can. At the same time, we should spend most of our resources, energies and time to fund raising for ANEW. Lastly, we should aim at having a transparent replacement of the ANEW members of the board who have resigned as well as recruiting for Jamillah’s replacement. After all, we still have our Bi Annual General Meeting slated for October 2011 during which we shall all have ample opportunities to make all the changes that we might desire within ANEW.

  1. 9. Key recommendations of the recent external Strategic Evaluation of ANEW

I have literally lifted the key recommendations that came out of the Strategic Evaluation which was completed by INTRAC late in 2010, and which are highly relevant as we go about nurturing our very own network – ANEW. As we go about the immediate actions, we shall have to put enough time to implement the said recommendations.

  • Be bolder in communicating ANEW’s unique vision and applying agreed strategy. The board needs to be much more active and united in promoting the vision of the network and defending its purpose. The 2010-2014 strategy is too broad and the board needs to set priorities amongst the many objectives and activities. Board and secretariat need to disseminate and communicate the vision and strategy to the members so that they understand ANEW is a network for amplifying  the voice of civil society – not a fundraiser for service delivery[1].
  • Concentrate efforts. ANEW cannot yet sustain a continent-wide civil society network. It must be selective and build on success. It needs to limit its ambitions to sub-Saharan Africa and concentrate efforts in the medium term on those countries that have shown most promise and progress during the EUWF programme[2].
  • Focus on strengthening national platforms and the secretariat. ANEW should concentrate in the medium term on strengthening the national platforms and the secretariat, each with clear, complementary roles for advocacy and monitoring in water and sanitation: at the national level (for the network) and at the continental level (for the secretariat)[3].
  • Build ANEW as a network of networks. ANEW should move quickly to implement its strategy to have only one member at national level – the national water and sanitation platform. This gives ANEW a potentially manageable maximum of 53 members. Current practice of enrolling a great many individual CSOs as ANEW members (400 to date) should cease as it weakens network functioning and governance. Membership of individual CSOs should be with their national ANEW networks[4].
  • Postpone set up of sub-regional groupings. They are not an immediate priority. They should arise from strong national platforms when the platforms are ready to create, resource and sustain them. Regional platforms should be set up only where there are sufficient active national platforms to guarantee standards and sustainability. In due course the board and secretariat should establish procedures for setting up sub-regional bodies[5].
  • Avoid unrealistic expectations and dependence. ANEW should adopt a more clearly bottom-up approach to network strengthening. Network formation and resourcing at the national level should be the primary responsibility of relevant local CSOs, not of the ANEW secretariat. National platforms need to be much more entrepreneurial and ambitious in self-managing their business at national level. They need to engage donors present in their countries and not depend on the secretariat for funds.  The secretariat for its part should establish standard procedures for network formation and strengthening and help coordinate across networks[6].
  • Build capacity locally, coordinate centrally. ANEW’s technical capacity building (CB) remit is training of trainers in the essential advocacy, communications and policy research skills. There is also a great need for organisational and institutional development. The secretariat needs to support this as well but not directly. It can coordinate and signpost to relevant service providers[7].
  • Enhance Platform visibility. ANEW needs to work at raising its awareness and visibility and that of the platforms in the countries where it is working. Currently, the levels of awareness of ANEW are quite low. There is little genuine sense of belonging to a continental network – individual CSOs tend to be in ANEW for what they can get. Their contribution is weak; the platforms contribute more. The secretariat needs to have a clear strategy for enhancing ANEW visibility, for example through better communications and more diversity of language and origin of secretariat staff[8].
  1. 10. Executive ANEW Board or a non Executive ANEW Board?

After listening to many of you members of ANEW, and having my own experience in working within the ANEW board, it is clear that many of you would like to see the ANEW board do its work as a non – executive board. This is a challenge which the ANEW board will need to address immediately, since it impacts negatively on the performance of our network. At any rate, I would like to see this matter debated thoroughly during the Bi Annual General Meeting in October 2011. Nb it might be necessary to make appropriate changes to our Constitution to accommodate the outcomes of that kind of debate.

Similarly, the founding member syndrome has also been cited as a challenge that the ANEW board will need to address. Whereas I salute the founders of ANEW, I would also like to see a situation whereby a suitable structure is created to accommodate such useful persons who would then advise ANEW but without any executive powers or authority as such.

  1. 11. Way forward

Report to EUWF – this report is very urgent and Baker will have to finalize the remaining bits within the deadline of 15th February 2011. Fortunately, Jamillah gave Baker a comprehensive hand over notes which will make it easy for Baker to oversee the finalization of the said report.

Enhance the fund raising efforts – this is a high priority area as indicated above.

Recruit for Executive Secretary position as soon as we secure the requisite funds – this too is a highly urgent matter which the ANEW board will have to deal with immediately.

Reinvigorate membership of our network – There are so many important events and processes planned for 2011 and 2012 which ANEW is expected to participate in courtesy of its position within the water and sanitation sector. I would therefore want to see the ANEW membership reinvigorated and active. Baker and the ANEW         board will have to ensure that this noble initiative – of re-invigorating our members, attained.

Strategic evaluation report / Addis Action Plan – as indicated above, ANEW has received final strategic evaluation report from INTRAC which has key recommendations which I have highlighted above. The ANEW board will have to ensure that these recommendations are implemented within the appropriate time frame. To make that easier, a draft action plan for the key recommendations was developed during the review meeting in Addis Ababa in December 2010. This action plan will now need to be finalized by identifying key indicators and a timeline and then be endorsed by the Board as soon as possible. Again Baker will oversee this activity.

Replacement of board members who have resigned – The Board plans to replace the Board members for East Africa, South Africa and West Africa as soon possible. Fortunately, the Secretariat has all the necessary documentation to support this process.

Message of hope  – As I conclude this message, I would like to urge you individually and collectively, to protect and guard the image of our network – ANEW – especially at this time when many of us have been sending somewhat disturbing messages all over the place. I would also like to caution you that our current listserve for ANEW is linked to non – members of ANEW as well to our development partners.

May God bless all of you.

ANEW Chairman

29th January 2011.

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