This paper documents lessons learned from projects taking a more holistic approach to conservation and development. It aims to build the evidence base for how implementers have integrated sanitation and hygiene, and freshwater ecosystem conservation to date in sub-Saharan Africa . In the region, around four in 10 people still rely on unimproved sources for their daily water needs in the region whereas two thirds are still without improved sanitation.
While there have been noticeable improvements in access to improved water sources in the region, the population growth rate is fast outpacing these efforts resulting in more people being solely dependent on surface waters. The fast growth rate is also putting pressure on the natural resource base and in turn the ecosystems.
Water, poverty and environment are intrinsically connected. Areas of high endemism and biodiversity are usually relatively remote and as a result human communities living in close proximity to these areas tend to be impoverished with little to no access to improved water sources and sanitation facilities.
Water and sanitation projects are a fundamental cornerstone of human development. Access to water (in relative proximity) translates into increased economic productivity and healthier communities. Well-planned sanitation infrastructure minimises the risk of acquiring the aforementioned water-borne diseases, resulting in a healthier and more vibrant community and healthy ecosystems.