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CREPA proposes continental think tank on WASH policy

Juanita During, Head of Policy, Advocacy and Partnership, CREPA

Plans are underway to establish an ‘Africa Policy Forum for Sanitation and Water’ which will function as a continental Think Tank on Home grown WASH solutions.

The African Centre for Water and Sanitation (CREPA), is spearheading the establishment of this think tank which is expected to provide solutions for the WASH sector that are home grown, realistic, sustainable, cost effective, and most importantly directly relevant to the specific issues and environment of the continent, based on intellectual debate and rigorous scientific research dedicated to the development of the sector.

The draft plan ‘Africa Policy Forum for Sanitation and water’ was the kernel of discussion at a session on ‘Enchasing Knowledge in the WASH sector in Africa’ during the ongoing High level forum for Water and Sanitation in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Presenting the concept to delegates, Juanita During, Head of Policy, Advocacy and Partnerships, African Centre for Water and Sanitation (CREPA),, posed several questions: Why then do we still have poor coverage rate of 32% for sanitation in the continent in spite of the avalanche of experience, knowledge and information in the sector,?; Why are academic researches standing alone and do not affect WSS policies? How do we harness all the expertise and the knowledge in the sector to practically affect the poor in African countries?

Answering these questions, During said that there gaps evidently exists in the sanitation sector in Africa which leads to a disconnection between practice and policy, resulting in the detachment of policy formulation from realities on the ground. Identifying these, gaps, the CREPA Chief said: Africa is a receptacle rather than a generator of knowledge in WATSAN public policy, existing think tanks operate as academic rather than practice or policy oriented institutions; foreign think tanks have a preponderant influence on WATSAN policies in Africa; and there is no or little consultation with stakeholders making public policies leading to lack of space engagement.

Her words: “There is a huge gap in WASH knowledge. WASH policies that are formulated and implemented are not informed by actual realities. We are therefore proposing the African Think Tank for Home Grown policies to bridge the WASH knowledge gap; to bring about a correlation between policy and practice ensuring sanitation and water polices reflect best practice, are home grown, information driven, people centred, and sustainable.”.

Also at the event, Nico Elema of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), made a presentation on ‘Knowledge Management in the Water sector’, explaining how the NEPAD’s ‘Water Centres for Excellence’ have been contributing to human capacity development in the WASH sector, through research, training and knowledge sharing across the African continent

Delegates were also introduced to the – an educational portal training WASH professionals