Southern Africa Knowledge Node on Sustainable Sanitation
The SADC region will start to benefit from the sanitation knowledge node that was officially launched on 11 November 2009 during the 2nd Africa Water Week at Gallagher Estate, Midrand. The sanitation node is funded by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and co-managed by the Water Research Commission and Water Information Network - South Africa (WIN-SA). After realising the need to intervene in the Sub-saharan region, SEI has made a commitment to assist SADC countries in addressing the sanitation backlog through the Southern Africa knowledge node on Sustainable Sanitation (SAKNSS).
The SAKNSS aims to fast-track and accelerate the delivery of sanitation through sustainable solutions. The sanitation node also aims to facilitate and coordinate capacity and skills development, knowledge sharing and collaboration.
This is an intervention by SEI to solve challenges related to sanitation, which are not only in Africa but remain a global problem. The world population is continually increasing all the time, thus extending the need to continuously support innovative sanitation means. Sanitation knowledge management could be improved in the SADC region through research, lessons exchange and further development of sanitation systems as these are urgently needed.
Through the SAKNSS, Sub-Saharan Africa could start to work collaboratively towards achieving sustainable sanitation through the application of a holistic approach addressing water supply and sanitation and also taking care of other disciplines such as agriculture, town planning, public health, environmental protection, resource management, and economics, marketing and sustainability assessment.
The implementation of SAKNSS involves a combination of demonstration projects and action research, development of field-tested standardised systems and the compilation of a broad knowledge base on innovative and sustainable sanitation. The SAKNSS strongly supports the demonstration of projects illustrating how sustainable ecological sanitation systems can be provided to meet the MDGs.
Various presentations were made during the SAKNSS launch touching on the linkages between agriculture and sanitation. ‘South Africa is still lagging behind in sanitation services provision, opportunities to learn from other countries are still needed’ says Dr Heidi Snyman, WRC Director for Water-Centred Knowledge. According to Dr Snyman, South Africa will benefit from the WRC’s newly-produced Guidelines for the Utilisation and Disposal of Wastewater Sludge(Volume 1 to 5) , as the implementation of sludge management poses considerable challenges.
Other countries are already reaping the benefits of using urine and faeces as fertiliser to produce food. Dr Olufunke Lofie from Ghana shared the EcoSan lessons from her country: ‘Farmers are already getting high incomes after considering faecal fertilisers’. Most of the countries emphasise the importance of conducting agriculture in a manner that produces sustainable benefits, especially for poor communities. Sanitation and agriculture could not be directly linked but there is a need to ensure sustainable development in both the sanitation and agriculture sectors.
The WRC and WIN-SA are co-managing the SAKNSS programme. Whilst the WRC is a knowledge hub that directs research, WIN-SA plays a leading role in creating and disseminating knowledge, at the same time ensuring the inclusion of other key stakeholders within the water sector. Through this collaboration the SAKNSS brings individuals and organisations from different disciplines within SADC together to participate in sustainable sanitation activities and innovations.
Ditshego Magoro, who is responsible for the management of the SAKNSS, says, ‘Participation in the SAKNSS is open to anyone with interest in sustainable sanitation. The node will play a big role in scaling up knowledge sharing within the SADC region’.
Contact : Hlengiwe Cele
Knowledge Dissemination Officer
Tel: 012 330 9006