Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in the world, renowned for its long periods of droughts and famines. Since 1983 WaterAid has been enabling communities to gain access to safe, sustainable water supplies and sanitation. These basic human rights underpin health, education and livelihoods and form the first, essential step in overcoming poverty.
A group of friends drinks from a WaterAid-funded faucet.
WaterAid / Caroline Irby
Our aim is to improve the livelihoods of the poorest communities through the provision of clean water, sanitation and hygiene education using technologies that are appropriate to local conditions, affordable and easy to maintain.
WaterAid works closely with eight local NGOs (non-governmental organizations), the local private sector and local and regional government departments in water, sanitation and hygiene projects. We also work with a wide range of other bodies to influence water and sanitation policies on a national level.
WaterAid's achievements to date
- We have now helped over one million people gain access to safe water.
- Helped establish the specialist NGO Water Action and supported the formation of the water unit of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Inter Church Aid Commission.
- WaterAid is seen as the main champion of large sustainable gravity flow water schemes in the country.
- Coordinated WASH Ethiopia, a country-wide water, sanitation and hygiene movement.
Women collecting water from a WaterAid funded rope pump in Al Hamer
Credit: WaterAid / Kate Eshelby
Our projects vary from region to region depending on the natural environment and local requirements.
In all cases WaterAid works closely with local communities from the start, to raise awareness of how water and sanitation impact on disease and poverty.
Entire communities are actively involved in the planning, building, managing and evaluation of projects. Particular attention is being paid to supporting and engaging the poorest and most marginalized in society, namely women, the elderly and HIV/AIDS sufferers.
In Oromia Region, water projects tend to be spring-fed gravity schemes, providing water to tens of thousands of people. In Southern Nations and Nationality People's Region schemes have included deep boreholes as water is sometimes only found below 200 meters.
In Amhara and Tigray the main technologies so far have been hand-dug wells and spot spring development, where springs are simply tapped and protected at their source. In Benishangul Gumuz, as well as hand-dug wells fitted with handpumps, WaterAid is testing simpler and more cost-effective rope pumps.
In our sanitation and hygiene education work WaterAid and local partners are involved in supporting the construction of latrines for both households and institutions, particularly schools. Latrines vary from simple pit latrines to composting latrines, bio-gas, mobile toilets and ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines.
Hygiene education has increasingly focused on the close links between good hand washing and improved health. This has led to a significant reduction in the number of diarrheal diseases and deaths, particularly among young children.
Although WaterAid mainly works in rural areas, since 1998 we have assisted with projects in the slums of the capital, Addis Ababa, as well as other expanding towns and cities. Projects include establishing communal water points linked to the city's piped systems, wastewater management, shower and latrine blocks and mobile toilets.
Ethiopia's communication and transportation systems are some of the worst in the world. WaterAid works with local partners to facilitate road building, thereby ensuring an effective supply chain when materials and repairs are required and, as a result, the sustainability of projects in the more remote area
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