Worldwide—Water for Africa through Leadership and Institutional Support (WALIS)

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development

Duration: 2015-2021

Region: Sub-Saharan Africa

Country: Worldwide

Solutions: Environment

Despite significant progress made through donor and nongovernmental organization investments over the past 30 years, a large percentage of Africans still lack access to clean water and proper sanitation. To help address the lack of access to water and sanitation services and facilities from a regional perspective, the U.S. Agency for International Development created the Water for Africa through Leadership and Institutional Support (WALIS) program. WALIS builds the capacity of national and regional leaders to capture and apply evidence to deliver improved access to safely managed water and sanitation for all.

WALIS strengthened the ability of African leaders, institutions, and stakeholders to use data and analyses to shape water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) policies, plans, and budgets. In its final year, WALIS worked to reinforce core program activities while strengthening the integration of WASH into COVID-19 response and research efforts. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the critical importance of sanitation, hygiene, and adequate access to clean water for preventing and containing diseases.

DAI lead the WALIS team and engaged with multiple partners and key investors in Africa’s water security, sanitation, and hygiene sector.

Sample Activities

  • Research how African regional institutions, utilities, and partner governments have accessed data to make informed decisions on WASH services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This research will provide valuable information on the critical WASH responses that African country leaders have undertaken during the pandemic of relevance; how those decisions have been reached; the degree to which evidence informed those decisions—or not; and what lessons can be drawn to inform a better response to future crises and to build back better.
  • Support the Lukanga Water Supply and Sanitation Company (LgWSC) in Zambia to better withstand the impacts of the pandemic while maintaining water services to communities. LgWSC, like other water service providers, has seen operating revenue plummet during COVID-19. Combined with underlying operational inefficiencies, these losses put LgWSC’s financial viability at risk and the delivery of clean, safe water to the people of Central Province in jeopardy. WALIS will work with LgWSC to determine the current and future financial impacts of the pandemic and to develop a business continuity plan so it can weather the current pandemic and other major incidents in the future.
  • Build on recent work with Senegal’s Ministry of Water and Sanitation to identify the public sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools, healthcare facilities, and other public places in regions with high transmission risk. This data is recorded in Senegal’s digital sanitation asset directory so that the government can better address WASH needs in the face of the pandemic and in the future.
  • Support the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) to positively influence a robust regional WASH response to the COVID-19 crisis. WALIS will work with AMCOW to enhance its reputation as a knowledge management platform where sector leaders across the continent can share information on WASH and COVID-19 through the creation of new policy papers, tools, and templates. Related to this work, WALIS will support the creation of guidelines that ministries can leverage to advocate greater resource allocation to the WASH sector.

Select Results

  • Through its Improving WASH Evidence-Based Decision-Making Program, WALIS worked in six African countries on country-led activities to improve knowledge management and develop national water resources and sanitation information monitoring and knowledge management systems with relevant ministries.
  • Supported AMCOW to monitor and evaluate 39 countries on their progress to achieve the Ngor Declaration on Sanitation and Hygiene. This declaration represents the continent’s vision to achieve universal access to adequate and sustainable sanitation and hygiene services and to eliminate open defecation by 2030. WALIS’s support resulted in the first-ever robust monitoring framework and baseline of the ten commitments key to achieving Africa’s vision under the Ngor Declaration.
  • Strengthened gender equality and social inclusion in the WASH sector in Ghana by working with Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor to support two utility partners in the development of gender-sensitive guidelines. WALIS also trained 310 organization staff members in gender mainstreaming.
  • Trained 1,805 people through 69 sessions.
  • Produced 61 studies and 72 communication products.
  • Helped develop 38 enabling environment policies or plans.


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