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Monday, 20 March 2017
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The African Water and Sanitation Association (AfWASA) is a professional organization of water and sanitation sector actors. It was established in February 1980 out of the desire by some African water utility manager to pool their human, technical and financial resources and optimize the training of men and women in the sector to create synergy around the search for solutions to improve access to drinking water for people of Africa.



It was in 1970 that the Ivorian ZADI KESSY Marcel, of venerated memory, then a Manager at the Côte d'Ivoire Water Distribution Company (SODECI), first raised the idea of establishing an organisation that would bring together African Water Companies around a common idea, namely the training of men and women working in companies in the sector, and the pooling of their know-how to improve their performance.

The idea was an instant success among many of the leaders in the water sector at the time.

In February 1980, Zadi Kessy Marcel, who had in the meantime become Managing Director of SODECI, organised the founding congress of the AUWS or African Union of Water Suppliers, with its headquarters in Liberia.

The member companies of the AUWS were performing well in providing services to the public, and their results were attracting new members. The AUWS started making a name for itself.

Between 1990 and 2000: Numerous institutional reforms were introduced in African Water and Sanitation Companies, giving rise to asset management companies, sanitation boards and regulators, which also joined the Association.

The Union continued to grow and welcomed private service providers, NGOs, researchers and professionals from academia, research and public policy.

To take account of all these changes and encompass all the stakeholders in the water sector, in 2000, at the Durban Congress, the African Union of Water Suppliers changed its name to the African Water Association (AfWA) and adopted a new logo.

The Association continued to grow. It now enjoys the trust of a number of high-profile donors (the UN, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, the World Bank, UNICEF, the OPEC Fund for International Development, etc.) for the implementation of water and sanitation projects.

350 million people are affected by its actions in the water and sanitation sectors.

At the same time, sanitation stakeholders were calling for greater visibility, particularly in the Association's name, especially as the AfWA had made sanitation an important pillar of its operations. On 31 March 2021, the General Assembly unanimously approved a change of name, and the African Water Association became the African Water and Sanitation Association (AfWASA). The logo has been slightly modified to clearly show the name of the Association. This new name came into effect on 20 February 2023 during the 20th International Congress and Exhibition of the AfWA, in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

Read the full history here