Accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals: collaborative policy making in sanitation for integrated benefits in Sub-Saharan Africa

Image: WaterAid/ Etinosa Yvonne


In 2020, 54% of the world had access to safe sanitation, but access further reduces to 21% in sub-Saharan Africa. With only eight years left to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is an urgent need to accelerate action in the sanitation sector. Previous academic research highlights sanitation as vital for supporting cross-cutting outcomes in health, economics, climate, gender equality, and the environment. However, there is a gap in knowledge outputs for policy makers to highlight how action in sanitation can leverage investment from agencies and ministries to achieve multiple SDGs. Our transdisciplinary team (academics, policy makers and practitioners) co-developed actionable outputs for diverse audiences to fill this gap, building on an existing global evidence review identifying 130 synergies between sanitation and the SDGs.

We identified priority focus areas influencing sanitation policies and financing in Sub-Saharan Africa to collaboratively develop visual aids, policy briefs and this academic publication to engage cross-sectoral audiences. Our approach offers insights into the value of theoretical knowledge for policy outcomes in the sanitation sector. It is most likely that SDG 6 Targets particularly related to sanitation will not be met by 2030 as the sector suffers from under investment. Co-creation between academia and the development sector is critical for consolidating knowledge/research and development practice to influence investment, progress and innovation.

Authors: K Bobbins, L Diep, P Hofmann, A Oko Williams, L C Campose, I Steenmans, M Lakhanpaul, D W Mate-Kodjo, P Parikh.

Read the article published in World Development Sustainability

Read the blog about our research with University College London

Read our related policy briefs and case studies

Top image: A pregnant woman walks out of the toilet at a health centre in Napacala, Niassa Province, Mozambique. Jul 25, 2022. Action on sanitation has wide-ranging benefits across health, among other areas.