Addressing Human Resource Gaps in the Sanitation Sector

Julia Eigner for USAID WALIS, Sanitation works in Uganda

The ambitious goal of achieving universal access to safe water and sanitation as set out in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, has led to increased investments in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure and institutions. However, research shows that a lack of corresponding investments in the human resource (HR) base needed for effective WASH infrastructure management and service delivery has resulted in a significant gap between the current human resources available in the sector and what will be needed to achieve the SDGs. Therefore, the ability of the sector to develop and retain skilled professionals is vital if countries are to make progress in increasing access to water and sanitation.

In 2017, the Water for Africa through Leadership and Institutional Support (WALIS) project conducted a survey to better understand the training needs and preferences of professionals in the sanitation sector in Africa. A summary of the survey results, findings from key stakeholder interviews, and recommendations for creating more targeted training opportunities in the sector were published in the African Sanitation Academy: Feasibility Report.

In 2019, WALIS conducted additional data analyses to identify the unique needs and preferences of three target groups that will be important in building the HR capacity of the sanitation sector: young professionals, women professionals, and professionals working in the private sector and/or as independent consultants. The key findings from the analysis are summarized in this report.