Africa Water and Sanitation Local Authorities Network
  • Africa has 9% of global freshwater resources, but 15% of the global population.
  • 26% of Africa's population (244 million) has a piped water connection on their premises.
  • Almost 20% of Sub-Saharan Africa relies on a water source that is more than 30 minutes away from the household.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for over a third of the world's 884 million people who still do not get their drinking water from improved sources.

The United Cities and Local Governments – Africa

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 “Africa is a rapidly urbanising continent. This presents the continent with enormous challenges among which include provision of adequate basic services such as water to the growing populace. However, cities and urban regions within the continent harbour great potential to lead and be innovative in planning for resilient and sustainable water service provision into the future.” - Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General, UCLGA


The United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG-A) is a Pan African association of municipalities and national/regional local government associations in Africa.It is also an autonomous African Chapter of the world-wide organization of local governments known as the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG).  

Vision and Mission

The Vision of the UCLG-A is: ‘Building African Unity from, and Driving African Development through the Grassroots’.

In order to achieve this vision, the UCLG Africa seeks to undertake the following:

  • Lobby for local government to be recognized as a distinct sphere of government in the framework of the decentralized policies to be adopted and implemented in all African countries
  • Support the creation and strengthening of national associations of local authorities in all African countries as well as their regroupings at regional level according to the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) of the African Union
  • Improve the quality and profile of local governance throughout Africa, in particular through the participation and effectiveness of women and youth, an increased participation of communities, civil society and private sector, both in governance and in a better provision of services at local level
  • Increase the responsiveness of local governments to the demands of their citizenry including vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in society
  • Better the policy and development implementation environment at the local level through facilitating effective and competent voice and influence of local governments at national, regional and continental levels.
  • Foster the recognition and expression of African culture and heritage as key identity icons in value systems of local government’s development work.

Operational Programme

To address the context and key challenges facing African local governments, in consistency with the priority intervention areas, the UCLG-A has adopted a long term perspective strategy (2008-2018) also known as the ‘Governance, Advocacy & Decentralized Development Programme for Africa’ (GADDEPA). Currently, the GADDEPA has three pillars:

-     Advocacy and lobbying (Pillar 1)

-     Corporate learning and knowledge management (Pillar 2)

-     Institutional capacity development (Pillar 3)

 The water and sanitation interventions of UCLG Africa fall under Pillar 2 of the GADDEPA.

 UCLG-A Supporting the Water and Sanitation Sector

One of the most debilitating challenges confronting local governments in Africa is the provision of adequate water and sanitation services.

The UCLG-A recognises that this challenge can better be addressed through the generation of relevant knowledge and technology and harnessing of available competences in a systematic manner.

The UCLG-A value highly its partnership with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and The International Water Association (IWA) in the Africa Water and Sanitation Local Authorities (AWASLA) initiative.

The UCLG-A has collaborated with the World Bank on a survey in Sub Saharan Africa countries to assess the current state of the water and sanitation sector. This first set of data has served as a baseline study to inform how to tailor intervention strategies to support initiatives that address the challenges in the sector. This first survey should be widened to have a better coverage of African countries and local governments in order to improve the robustness of the study and further strengthen the capacity of AWASLA to be a resource centre for its member and beyond. Through the study, the AWASLA would also mobilize and pool available African expertise in order that it serves to scale up best practices in the sector. The knowledge acquired will inform UCLG-A upstream advocacy and lobbying initiatives as well as the downstream corporate learning and knowledge management throughout the continent.

UCLG-A also offers to support those local governments and their associations willing to implement needed reforms for an improved delivery of water and sanitation services to the citizen. A dedicated website is under construction that will provide a corpus of guidelines and benchmarking data in order to inspire local leaders that want to embark into such reforms in the water and sanitation sector. A technical assistance program is being defined for the benefit of these local governments and their associations as well as local small and medium size service providers in the water and sanitation sector.

AWASLA provides an opportunity to create a high-value think tank to address water and sanitation challenges on the continent. UCLG-A participates in this partnership with high expectations for improving institutional responses to the debilitating challenges that confront local governments in the water and sanitation sector throughout the continent.

Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi