The African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW), a Specialized Technical Committee on water and sanitation for the African Union, has received a grant of US$2 Million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build capacities for sanitation policy development, monitoring and evaluation coverage and advocacy in the continent.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave approval for the grant November 2012 as part of its global development efforts in improving water, sanitation and hygiene in Africa, and belief that smart investments in sanitation can reduce disease and improve the lives of the poor.

The overall purpose of the grant is to support AMCOW’s capacity to guide sanitation and hygiene policy formulation and implementation in Africa and contribute to achieving the eThekwini Ministers commitments on sanitation and hygiene in the continent with greater emphasis on fragile states facing bigger challenges in provision of sanitation services. It is expected that the grant will enable AMCOW to:

  • Provide technical guidance and training to four fragile counties to develop and adopt quality national sanitation and hygiene policies and plans with real potential for impact;

  • hold the AfricaSan conference and awards as a mechanism for tracking progress, refining targets, building leadership, enabling peer support amongst countries and advocacy for implementation of the AfricaSan Action Plan that is targeted at achieving the eThekwini commitments;

  • enable African countries to effectively fulfill their obligations to report to the AU on sanitation using the African mechanism for water and sanitation monitoring, evaluation and reporting.

“We face tremendous challenges of diminishing access to clean water and safe sanitation. Across the globe, about 2.6 billion do not have access to safe sanitation. Africa accounts for almost 40 percent of these figures.” says Bai Mass Taal, AMCOW Executive Secretary. “AMCOW is committed to working with partners such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to reduce this scourge and improve access to safe sanitation thereby achieving our overall goal of decreasing poverty and disease in the continent.”