Pathways to Progress: Status of Water and Sanitation in Africa

Key Findings

Political stability has heavily influenced progress in improving access to WSS service with low-income stable countries outperforming low-income fragile and resource-rich countries.

Resulting in making greater increases in coverage across subsectors; reducing open defecation more markedly in rural sanitation; being more successful in keeping up with population growth in urban water supply; and achieving more equitable access, with a smaller gap in coverage between the richest and poorest segments of the population.

The shift in how aid is delivered, from donor-driven projects to country-led programmatic approaches, has strengthened the service delivery pathways that translate inputs (finance) into outcomes (coverage) anchored in core government systems—greatly extending their reach and rate of implementation capacity.

An estimated $25 billion dollars of aid has been channeled to water supply and sanitation over the past 20 years. The good progress of low-income stable countries has been assisted by their receiving three times more aid than low-income fragile countries and two times more aid than resource-rich countries, per unserved person. However, the relative strength of low-income stable country performance is not only the result of greater funding but the nature of that funding. As aid modalities have shifted from donor-driven projects to country-led programmatic approaches to service delivery—along the Paris Principles for aid effectiveness—line ministries have increasingly used core- government systems (public financial management systems and decentralized service delivery capacity) and private sector capacity in the wider economy.  The progress has itself made these sectors more attractive propositions for further investment both from domestic and external sources. This is the virtuous cycle required to incrementally close the annual shortfall in capital investment of US$6 billion needed to meet national targets. 


The African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) commissioned the production of a second round of Country Status Overviews (CSOs) on water supply and sanitation, to shed light on the factors that underpin progress in the sector. The World Bank, Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), and the African Development Bank implemented this task in close partnership with UNICEF, WHO, and the governments of 32 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The full synthesis report, Pathways to Progress: Transitioning to Country-Led Service Delivery Pathways to Meet Africa’s Water Supply and Sanitation Targets and individual country reports are available below for download.

Country Reports

(Additional country reports coming soon)

Angola Ghana Rwanda
Benin Kenya Senegal (English | French)
Burkina Faso (English | French Liberia Sierra Leone
Cameroon(English | French Mali South Africa
Central African Republic (English French Mauritania Tanzania
DRC Mozambique Togo
Ethiopia Niger Uganda
The Gambia Nigeria Zimbabwe
    The Synthesis Report

About the Lead Author

Dominick de Waal is a Senior Finance Specialist working with WSP based in Nairobi, Kenya. He leads the Africa region’s work on public finance, sector performance monitoring and aid effectiveness. In addition to task managing the Country Status Overview exercise, he is leading WSP's response in fragile states, which supports transitioning from isolated WSS interventions to country-led sector programming. For more information on the report, contact Dominick at

Co-authored by Maximilian Hirn and Nathaniel Mason.