Webinar to Advance Action with African Stakeholders
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, our plans for a two-day, in-person workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 10-11 had to be postponed. We decided to do a three-hour virtual webinar with confirmed participants on March 11 instead, with the hopes of rescheduling the regular in-person workshop to a later date. We will keep participants posted on this as soon as we know more.
Our agenda for the webinar included a brief presentation of the WRR workshop and then a facilitated discussion with online participants focused on key questions related to improving access to services in the African city context. We had roughly 24 participants attend the virtual meeting from across African city governments, NGOs, universities and activist organizations. We had a lively discussion with all participants and, much like in India, identified some common solutions that seemed especially important for city decision-makers in the African context.
Gaetan Siew of the Global Creative Leadership Initiative in Mauritius spoke about the importance of integrating the formal and informal sectors and harnessing innovation in the informal sector. He described how growth in African cities often seems disjointed, but really there is great energy and innovation happening. The informal and formal sectors are connected by technology, and services like health care are being delivered in informal ways using technology to reach more people in remote areas. This kind of leapfrog innovation is important for the improvement of access to services. Jane Weru from the Akiba Mashinani Trust described a case study in the Mukuru slum outside of Nairobi, Kenya, where there has been evidence of successful cross-sectoral strategic planning that is built on trust with the local community. In this case, the local government and NGOs came together to create an eight-sector development plan for the slum area, which prioritized water and sanitation services in the slums due to their immediate impact on public health. This development plan took into account the needs of the community and will inform budget allocations from the county going forward. Another participant, Shuaib Lwasa, an associate professor at the University of Makerere in Uganda, stressed the need for improved collection and use of data that is relevant for policymaking and problem-solving. He spoke about the importance of affordability, quality, and reliability of services in addressing unequal access in urban areas and how disaggregated data should not only be used for decision-making (because many decision-making frameworks are stuck) but for solving immediate problems on the ground.
Common themes from this webinar discussion will be woven into our WRR Synthesis Report.
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