The 1st AfricaSan conference was hosted in Johannesburg by the then South African Minister of Water, Ronnie Kasrils, with 12 fellow African Ministers. Held just before the World Summit on Sustainable Development, it helped to build the groundswell which achieved the inclusion of sanitation as a specific MDG target. The concept of a political, technical, mobilizing event focusing on specifically on sanitation caught the imagination and concept was replicated in South Asia, Latin America and East Asia.
Five years later, AfricanSan 2 was a bigger, more inclusive event, hosted by AMCOW and other partners. AfricaSan attracted 32 African Ministers and produced the eThekwini declaration which makes 11 important commitments by African government to improve the performance of the sanitation and hygiene sector. The eThekwini declaration was subsequently endorsed by Heads of State at the 2008 AU Summit in the Sharm el Sheik Declaration and has been reaffirmed in subsequent declarations such as the Libreville Declaration on Health and the Environment in Africa.
AfricaSan 3 Conference was held in Kigali, Rwanda and demonstrated that AfricaSan has become a global brand with extraordinary interest: over 900 attended from a total of 67 countries, including representatives of 42 African countries. Participants included 23 African Ministers and deputy Ministers in charge of Sanitation, Water, Local Government, Health, or Infrastructure; and many of the leading thinkers and practitioners in sanitation and hygiene on the continent. AfricaSan3 received the highest political support from the government of Rwanda with His Excellency the President of Rwanda gracing the AfricaSan Awards with his presence and receiving a special Award from AMCOW, acknowledging his outstanding personal contribution to the improvement of sanitation and hygiene in Rwanda. AfricaSan 3 also provided the opportunity for alignment with key global sanitation initiatives, in particular the Sustainable Sanitation: Five year drive announced by the UN Secretary General where the drive was launched.