African Sanitation Academy: Market and Feasibility Study in West Africa


There are still many people who do not have access to improved sanitation and hygiene facilities or services in West Africa. For cities and other areas throughout the region, a lack of core country systems for sanitation, and a weak enabling environment, means that the building blocks for sanitation management and leadership are absent. To make the situation more challenging, targeting and implementation of sanitation improvements are clearly not meeting the needs of lower-income areas. Tackling the problem of pro-poor urban sanitation requires vision and innovation, which are strongly linked to the capacity of staff within utilities and municipalities.

The ASA market and feasibility study in West Africa was based on interviews with 33 key informants6 from 5 countries7 in West Africa, which, together with limited desktop research covering 15 countries8 of the sub-region, were conducted to gather and compile information, and explore the possibilities for sanitation leadership training in the region.

Upon review and analysis of the data, the main results of the feasibility study suggest that:

  • The existing training programs provided by training institutions in West Africa are too basic and are combined with other types of training, which may not be relevant for the sanitation sector.
  • There are no exclusive sanitation training programs for leaders and managers who need to strengthen their technical knowledge.
  • The existing training institutions are not equipped to meet the capacity building needs expressed by sanitation leaders and managers.
  • The budget for capacity building of the main sanitation services are not sufficient to cover all the training needs of leaders—training is not sufficiently prioritized.
  • The organization and criteria for establishment of private training institutions (in addition to public ones) are already set in different countries; private institutions have more ability to tailor training courses to the needs of the sector.
  • Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have developed and implemented capacity building systems for their employees in sanitation and these courses could be provided more widely or adapted for government and private sector participants.
  • Financial and technical partners already contribute to funding of capacity building for leaders and managers of services in charge of sanitation, using training that is available, but not considered ideal. With better training available, it can be anticipated that they will continue to send their trainees.

From the interviews, published and unpublished literature reviews, and field visits, this study concludes that there is a real need for more quality training, specifically customized and targeted for leaders and managers in the sanitation sector. Current sector leaders and managers identify with the goals and objectives of ASA and support the need for such an institution.

This feasibility study recommends that the ASA be established independently from existing public or private institutions and universities to ensure that the focus for sanitation is not diverted and that the training content is relevant for what the sector needs. In addition, this study recommends that regional hubs for West, Central, Southern, and East Africa will be needed, given the size of the continent, the size of the job to be done in terms of the number of people to be trained, and because each region has some uniqueness, which may require that similar regional approaches are shared.

6 Managers and leaders of public institutions in charge of sanitation, public and private sanitation training facilities, and NGOs and development partners active in the sanitation sector.
7 Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Mali, and Senegal.
8 Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.