Dakar Declaration – Formation of the Africa Water Justice Network (AWJN)

25th March 2022

At the end of two days of presentations and discussions during the Alternative World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal, which took place between the 22-25th of March 2022, we the undersigned declare the following:

Who we are:

We are a diverse group of organizations drawn from various parts of Africa, and other parts of the world, working at different levels of society to ensure unhindered access to quality water for people, particularly the poor and vulnerable.


We are united by the following common principles, beliefs, and values:

  • That water is life.
  • That water is a fundamental human right, essential to human life to which every person, regardless of status, age, race, gender, sexuality, religion, or political orientation should have adequate access.
  • That water is not a commodity to be bought and sold in the marketplace as an economic good.
  • Water is part of our common heritage, to be protected collectively for the common good of our societies and the natural environment for today and the future.
  • Water is an increasingly scarce natural resource, and as a result crucial to the security of our societies and sovereignty of our continent. For this reason, its ownership, control, delivery and management belong in the public domain today and tomorrow.
  • The public sector is legally and constitutionally mandated and designed to represent public interest. The essential purpose of the private sector on the other hand is to make profit regardless of public good. As a result, the private sector cannot be trusted with the interests of the public.
  • Citizens have the right to participate effectively and meaningfully (as distinguished from being informed) in the shaping of public policies which fundamentally affect their lives such as the control of water, and governments have a responsibility to enforce this right.
  • Community participation in the management of water systems is essential and beneficial to the overall effectiveness in affordable and sustainable water delivery.
  • Water management policies should be designed to ensure redistribution and social equity such as gender equity, public health and environmental equity.

Key Issues:

We recognize:

  • The inability of public utility companies over the years to provide adequate services, resulting in public frustrations and some loss of faith in the public utilities. However, these perceived and real failures can only be appropriately understood within the context of colonial neoliberal capitalism and austerity and the challenges this poses for governance and democracy over the years encompassing a wide range of public sector institutions including the security services, the judiciary and many more.Privatisation is certainly not a sustainable remedy to the failure of public institutions.
  • The severe shortage of investment in the water sector required to deliver adequate and affordable water to all. The severity of the lack of investments has led to solutions resulting in heavy dependency on foreign creditors (especially the World Bank and IMF) which have in turn compelled African countries to accept rigid conditionalities that have limited countries’ options for financing and reforming the water sector.
  • The close link between access to water and improved public health in view of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on African countries and the rest of the world.

What we are opposed to:

We reject:

  • The commodification of water.
  • Privatization in all its forms, as a solution to the problems bedeviling the water sector in Africa.
  • The logic of neoliberal capitalism that pushes the failures of privatization as well as the limitations of the state onto the shoulders of African women and more so those who are poor and working class.
  • The view that the participation of communities in the management of urban water supply is not feasible.
  • The running of the public sector on a cost-recovery market rate private sector model.
  • Public Private Partnerships prioritized over Public-Public solutions.
  • Any solutions which result in the violation of social and environmental rights, and justice such as the rights of workers, women, children, persons living with disabilities, and the preservation of the natural environment.

Guided by the above stated principles and issues, we commit to:

Forming and promoting a continental coalition against water privatization and for people and community control of water which shall be called “The Africa Water Justice Network (AWJN)” which will be a broad coalition of individuals and organisations committed to the above principles and to the following objectives:

Objectives of the Network:

  • To conduct a broad-based campaign to ensure that all Africans and people of the world have access to adequate and affordable portable water by the year 2030.
  • To ensure that the ownership, control and management of water services remain in public hands.
  • To promote public awareness and debate about water privatization, environmental and climate challenges to water availability in Africa
  • To promote alternative, intersectional, solutions to the problems mitigating against universal access to water including the challenge of post-colonial resource redistribution; problems of public management efficiency; and problems of token public consultation and disregard for the commons.

Structure of the Network

To pursue the above objectives, the Africa Water Justice Network shall have the following structure:

  • Membership – Membership of the Network shall be opened to organisations and community/activist groups. Any organization that wish to join the Network shall apply, sign a membership letter to agree with commitment to the network and recognition of principles of the Network.
  • An Annual General Meeting, which shall consist of all members of the network across the continent and supporters in other parts of the world. This shall be the highest decision making organ of the network.
  • A Steering Committee, which shall be responsible for supervising the work of the network, ensure activities of the Network are in conformity with founding principles and objectives and represent the AGM between meetings.
  • A Secretariat led by a Coordinator, which shall develop, implement, and communicate work programmes to pursue the principles and objectives of the Network.

Roles and Responsibilities

Annual General Meeting (AGM)

An Annual General Meeting (AGM) which shall be held every two years and be composed of members of the steering committee and delegates from member countries shall have the following responsibilities;

  1. Review and appraise the activities and operations of the AWJN and its status
  2. Consider, amend and/or approve the minutes of the previous annual general meeting(s)
  3. Consider the reports of the Steering Committee
  4. Elect office bearers where elections are due
  5. Consider and approve the balance sheet, audited accounts and estimates of income and expenditure for the ensuing year
  6. Consider and approve decisions on serious matters as made by the Steering Committee and where necessary give directives
  7. Consider and vote upon any amendments to the constitution where necessary,
  8. Consider any motions which have been properly tabled before the meeting, and
  9. Consider the report of the Coordinator
  10. The Chairperson of the Steering Committee shall preside over the AGM

Steering Committee

AWJN shall have a Steering Committee elected by the AGM and which shall comprise of not more than fifteen 9 members with due consideration for regional and gender equity in representation. The Committee shall have the following responsibilities;

  1. Initiate and cause to be executed the policies and programmes of AWJN, and where appropriate, through such sub-committees and working groups as shall be designated by it
  2. Formulate and review the policies that govern AWJN
  3. Approve the work plans and ensure the preparation of the budgets and accounts of AWJN
  4. Make recommendations to the AGM about amendments to the charter
  5. Take such steps as are necessary for the attainment of the objectives of AWJN
  6. Perform any other functions as directed by the AGM or in accordance with the powers vested in it by this charter
  7. The Committee shall meet at least every 2 months with a quorum of two-thirds of members
  8. The Committee shall have a Chairperson who shall preside over all meetings

The Secretariat

AWJN shall have a secretariat led by a Coordinator, which shall be accountable to the Steering Committee. The secretariat shall perform the following functions:

  1. Be responsible for the day to day running, operations and management of the Network
  2. Prepare and disseminate the work plans of AWJN
  3. Implement, coordinate and monitor the programmes and activities of AWJN
  4. Raise funds for and on behalf of the Network
  5. Collaborate, network , create and maintain close contacts with strategic allies, other appropriate networks, government reps, international networks and donors
  6. Initiate policy dialogues on issues relating to the objectives and activities of the AWJN
  7. Carry out publications on relevant issues regarding the Network and its objectives
  8. Prepare the budgets of the Network and implement the same upon approval by the Steering Committee
  9. Implement policies and strategies geared towards mobilizing members and sustaining the membership
  10. Facilitate the activities of regional and national platforms of the Network
  11. In consultation with the Steering Committee formulate job descriptions and recruit volunteers and staff for the Network
  12. Be responsible for reporting on the Network’s activities and keeping proper records of same
  13. Perform any other functions as directed by the Steering Committee in accordance with the duties vested on it by this Charter

Development of operational policies:

The secretariat and steering committee are empowered by this charter to develop and approve the following key policy documents:

  • Governance manual
  • Management hand book
  • Finance procedure manual
  • Other policies


The membership have given powers to the Steering Committee/board to propose amendments to this charter and present same to the AGM.

Our demands to key sector stakeholders African Governments:

  • To halt water privatization processes in respective countries on the continent and to use of public-public partnerships to build needed capacities.
  • To actively promote and invest into the decentralization of water systems and decision making around water to the community level.
  • To facilitate and provide platforms for national discussions on options for reforming the water sector that ensures universal access, transparency, accountability and mass participation in water governance.
  • To increase budgetary allocations and expenditures in the water sector whilst ensuring spending efficiency and taking action against corruption.

Environmental Justice Organizations and Movements

  • To commit to building transnational and internationalist movements working on the intersections of ecological justice (food, land, water, workers’ rights, Indigenous rights, women’s rights etc.)
  • To commit to lead in challenging false solutions such as privatization of the commons, carbon market schemes, geoengineering, industrial agriculture, large- scale mining wherever they are championed.

Workers unions of Africa

  • To be at the forefront in the struggle for the human right to water, and the right of nations to keep public utilities within the public sector.
  • To continue to work towards greater efficiency, accountability and good governance.
  • To oppose the mortgaging of countries’ water resources to foreign multinational companies.

Women’s Rights Organisations and Feminist Collectives

  • To recognize and promote the right to water as crucial to addressing structural and daily violence, inequality, and subjugation faced by women in their diversity and children.
  • To continue working across movements and coalitions to dismantle patriarchy and capitalism.
  • To continue building radical and intersectional movements committed to dismantling structural and systemic issues driving the privatization of the commons.

Media Houses and Practitioners

  • To call for and to support an informed and broad-based debate on the water privatization agenda and alternative practices of water access and conservation.

Religious Organisations, and all other sectors of Civil Society.

  • To raise the moral voice on the need for water and to lend their varied media to popular education and debate on the effects of water privatization.

Donors, Creditors, Including the World Bank

  • To de-link external assistance and soft loans to the condition to privatize our water systems.

We commit ourselves, under the platform of the Africa Water Justice Network to pursuing the above commitments and demands.

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