Ethiopia overview

Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous country and, while it is among one of the world’s poorest, (with a per capita GDP of US$ 954 (IMF, 2010)) the government has committed itself to very ambitious targets to expand access to water and sanitation across the country. These targets are generally supported by a technologically-driven strategy of constructing new water supply systems in rural areas.

A review of the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) Accelerated Universal Access Plan – a key sector policy document – suggests that the country’s target to increase coverage of water access (defined as 15 lpcd potable water within 1.5 km) to 98% by 2012 is more ambitious than the MDGs. Decentralisation has been ongoing since 1991.

Administrative set up

It is a federal state with nine regions (and two chartered cities) and approximately 550 woredas (districts).

Main sector institutions

  • The Ministry of Water and Energy (MoWE), at the federal level, is responsible for preparing national water policy, strategy and action plans, and for establishing national standards for, amongst other things, water quality and infrastructure. The ministry is also accountable for overseeing the implementation of policy and strategy. In addition to this regulatory role, the ministry gives technical advice (in the form of manuals and guidelines) to Regional Water Bureaus. The MoWR also manages the implementation of the largest capital investment projects.
  • At the regional level the Bureau of Water Resource Development is responsible for the implementation of federal policies by adapting them to the specific conditions of the region. The Water Bureaus also have a regulatory role for certain tasks as delegated to them by the ministry.
  • Zonal Water Resources Development Offices support the Water Bureaus in giving technical support to Woreda Water Offices and Town Water Supply Offices. They are accountable for coordinating activities, plans and reports from woredas, and liaising between regional Water Bureaus and Woreda Water Offices.
  • Woreda Water Resources Development Offices are responsible for the investigation, design and implementation of small-scale water supply schemes. In towns where there are no municipalities, they are also responsible for providing technical support to the Town Water Supply Offices.
  • The Woreda Water Offices each have a Woreda Water Supply Sanitation and Hygiene Team made up from the offices of health, education, women, and agriculture. These teams are responsible for planning and implementation of water and sanitation activities. O&M under CBM is the responsibility of the users and, more specifically, the WASH Committees (WASHCO) (or in towns, the Water Boards). WASHCOs are responsible for making minor repairs for which they charge a tariff to users. WASHCO members are selected from the communities through an election process.

Service Delivery Models

The formally recognised SDMs are:

  1. Community-management is the main SDM implemented in the rural water sector. After construction (mainly supported by donor funded projects and NGOs) and the handover of schemes, operation and minor repairs are handled by the WASHCOs representing the community. In multi-village schemes, Water Boards are established to oversee these tasks. Water Boards comprise representatives from the WASHCOs of individual villages.
  2. Self-supply is a low-cost approach to service delivery initiated by individual families or groups. Within this model, water sources, usually hand-dug wells, are constructed with limited direct support. Support to establish facilitating markets and supply chains is required to scale up. In 2009, this low-cost approach was formally recognised in policy. However, self-supply has yet to be incorporated as a formally recognised model in sector performance assessments.
  3. Municipalities with Town Water Boards in small towns. Small town water supply systems are managed by Water Boards, usually with support from and reporting to municipalities.

Key issues

A sector harmonisation programme (known as One WASH), which started in 2006, has widespread commitment and is gathering momentum. There is a strong drive from development partners and donors at national level towards harmonisation (particularly on funding mechanisms). Emphasis is on construction and implementation, which is done relatively well, but with much less focus on providing a long-term service.