German Water Partnership at the ABIDJAN2023

Strengthened and deepened cooperation with partner association AfWASA

Opening ceremony © GWP 2023

Sharing a location and an insightful event programme, the 21st International AfWASA Congress & Exhibition and the 7th International FSM-Conference took place from 19th until 23rd of February in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Jointly organised by the African Water and Sanitation Association (AfWASA) and the Faecal Sludge Management Alliance (FSMA), the Abidjan2023 introduced its attendees to a broad range of topics from the fields of water and sanitation, including faecal sludge management. Further, the GWP partner association took the occasion to declare its official name change to African Water                      & Sanitation Association (AfWASA).

Totalling over 3.500 visitors and 146 exhibiting companies, the congress was well received and attracted participants from 62 countries. German Water Partnership (GWP) was also on-site and represented by its board members Alexandra Ervenich, Mitsubishi Electric Europe B.V. and Head of the Regional Section North Africa, and Michael Kersting, Hermann Sewerin GmbH and Head of the Regional Section Africa, as well as Marie-Louise Chagnaud, Advisor for International Programs at the GWP head office.

Water and wastewater management and environmental protection – the role of women

Alexandra Ervenich on the panel of the 4th Women Professional Forum © GWP 2023

On the 19th of February, Abidjan2023 kicked-off with the 4th Women Professional Forum of women in water and sanitation themed “Water and wastewater management and environmental protection – the role of women”. Delegates of 18 women’s associations from the African water sector attended the event. Leontine Koffi chairwoman of the Ivorian network RIFPEA (Réseau ivoirien des femmes professionnelles de l’eau, de l’assainissement et de l’environnement) called for increased and easier access for women to leadership roles in the sector. The Ivorian minister of water and forestry, Laurent Tchagba, used his welcoming address to stress the urgency of climate change related issues in the areas of water and sanitation as well as the relation between deforestation and forest diebacks on the African continent. Herein, he placed special emphasis on the role of women in Africa.

Invited as a guest panellist, Alexandra Ervenich petitioned for a shift in perspective regarding the promotion of women in the water and wastewater sector. Her statement that female workers should be viewed as actors of change for more diverse and innovative problem-solving, rather than as added competition for male workers in the water sector, was met with great support from the audience.

The final statement of the 4th Women Professional Forum also referenced the topic, seeing as participants demanded an overall stronger commitment to youth development in the WASH-sector. Especially calling to action all women who already hold leadership positions to utilise their exemplary function in order to support and guide young women on their career paths.

Networking opportunities for GWP- and AfWSASA members

Impressions from the exhibition © GWP 2023

The partnership projects GAPWAS and AGTIWAS were displayed at their own booth in the AfWASA and FSMA grand exhibition hall, showcasing GWP’s activities in the sector. In a joint discussion led by Sabine Sibler, project manager of AGTIWAS, and Stefan Reuter, project manager of GAPWAS, involved members of AfWASA presented long-term goals and ambitions for the two project initiatives. During a networking event on Tuesday, 21st of February, members of GWP and AfWASA came together to discuss the main themes of the conference as well as future business opportunities. Michael Kersting and Sylvain Usher, managing director of AfWASA, were amongst the attendees as well as GWP members Diehl Metering GmbH, FLEXIM GmbH, Hermann Sewerin GmbH, NIVUS GmbH and WILO SE.

An informational session about the PartnerAfrica project AGTIWAS proved to be of particular interest. On the 21st of February, potential investors and sponsors were invited to speak on the future financial endowment and co-funding for the soon-to-be established African Water and Sanitation Academy (AWASA).

Sending an important signal to the world

The effects which climate change has on the water and sanitation sector are felt especially hard on the African continent and require immediate action. To make this sentiment actionable and formally conclude the conference, representatives of the Ivorian government alongside their prime minister developed and adopted a final declaration. Five water ministers from Côte d’Ivoire as well as Senegal, Niger, Malawi and Madagascar addressed this Abidjan Declaration to the participants of the UN Water Conference in New York (22nd – 24th March 2023), sending an important signal to the world.

African water sector continues to be attractive for GWP members

AfWASA-team with Sylvain Usher (center) © GWP 2023

The African water and sanitation sector are developing at a high speed. Consequently, the interest in German technology, but also in targeted solutions for the maintenance and permanent operation of service systems, is growing. To transition from one-off procurements to a LifeCycleCost model, it is vital that such insights are included in future planning and tendering processes.

Further, the conference yielded important feedback regarding the design of platforms of exchange such as the AfWASA Academy (AGTIWAS) or the ‘Ask the Expert’ programme (GAPWAS).

Lastly, the partner associations GWP and AfWASA reaffirmed and strengthened their collaboration. They plan to expand their network during the IFAT Africa at the beginning of July 2023, at the 22nd AfWASA International Congress & Exhibition in February 2024 in Conakry, Guinea and during the IFAT Munich in May 2024.