Soon: Improved access to better sanitation in East Africa

Water poured into a tank. A new partnership announced Dec. 18 aims to hit two birds with one stone: boost access to sanitation and support private firms in East Africa at the same time. Photo by: © Arne Hoel / The World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

A new partnership announced Dec. 18 aims to hit two birds with one stone: boost access to sanitation and support private firms in East Africa at the same time.

The World Bank’s private sector arm, International Finance Corp., has received a $639,715 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help regional manufacturers in East Africa overcome investments barriers and further innovate on sanitation products and services. The Selling Sanitation initiative will start in Kenya, where more than two-thirds of the population or 28 million people need better access to sanitation.

This is a concrete example of how private sector investments can be scaled up and how the entrepreneurial spirit of the business community can be harnessed to maximize donor funds and achieve greater impact.

“There is an urgent need to improve sanitation in Africa to reduce deaths and illnesses associated with poor hygiene. This partnership builds on the opportunity to mobilize private investment for better sanitation services,” said Oumar Seydi, IFC’s director for Eastern and Southern Africa.

IFC will support enterprises by working closely with governments in creating appropriate market conditions for the firms and their goods, spurring innovation, improving distribution channels, and promoting sanitation actively to “consumers currently without access.”

The initiative will take advantage of the World Bank’s experience in water and sanitation as it forms part of the IFC’s Sanitation and Safe Water for All program, and Gates Foundation’s water, sanitation and hygiene strategy.

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About the author

  • Adrienne Valdez

    Adrienne Valdez is a former staff writer for Devex, covering breaking international development news. Before joining Devex, Adrienne worked as a news correspondent for a public-sector modernization publication.