The Convergence Factor: Lessons from Integrating Freshwater Conservation and WASH

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CSA staff with NRM beneficiaries doing MiniSASS biomonitoring as part of M&E

Most of sub-Saharan Africa is under pressure from increasing population growth, urbanization, and consumption, as well as poorly-planned infrastructure development. All of these factors are negatively impacting the quality and availability of freshwater resources. In response to these threats to freshwater resources, the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG), supported by US Agency for International Development, pilot tested the integration of freshwater conservation and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) approaches in two African landscapes to improve both conservation and human health outcomes.

Conservation International, with its affiliate Conservation South Africa (CSA), and the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) integrated WASH activities into existing conservation programs in South Africa and Uganda, respectively. At the end of a two-year implementation period, both CSA and JGI staff agreed the pilots demonstrated meaningful results that prove the concept works. The demand from communities for improved water and associated health and conservation benefits underscore the need for more work on these projects.

The lessons learned from this work have been published and available in the report titled, The Convergence Factor: Lessons from Integrating Freshwater Conservation and Wash

The lessons learned from this work include:

  • WASH activities create incentives and co-benefits for conservation.
  • Gender analyses provide insights about roles and responsibilities relating to WASH and conservation that help with integration, resulting in more effective programming.
  • Community education campaigns foster sustainability and ownership of conservation and WASH approaches.
  • Monitoring and evaluation of these integrated projects is challenging but essential for demonstrating impact.
  • Community-led project decision making and local policies support sustainability of these efforts.

CSA, JGI and partners are confident these pilots and lessons provide good fodder for future African practitioners in the ABCG community of practice and beyond to advance this approach and achieve their conservation and human well-being goals. These pilots demonstrate ABCG’s unique, collaboration-based capacity to develop, disseminate and scale up best practices and effective tools for effective biodiversity conservation.

A webinar presentation on the lessons learned is also available here

For more information contact: Colleen Sorto (

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