Economic studies conducted in Africa have shown that impacts resulting from poor sanitation and hygiene cost the economies between 0.9 and 2.4 per cent of annual gross domestic product. This translates into approximately $10 per capita per year. These figures reflect: (a) the adverse health effects associated with poor sanitation and water supply; (b) costs of treating these health problems; (c) loss of productivity that results when individuals are sick and others have to care for them; and (d) time spent to access services. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), poor water and sanitation contribute 50 per cent of the indirect effects of malnutrition, which is widespread in Ethiopia, as evidenced by high rates of moderate and severe stunting and underweight in children under age five: 51 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively. WHO also estimates that diarrheal diseases caused the deaths of around 85,000 children under five years of age in Ethiopia in 2008.
Moreover, the accelerating urbanization rates of Ethiopia add to the challenge of securing WASH coverage throughout the country. According to the current annual urbanization rate of 4.7 per cent, approximately 30 per cent of all Ethiopians will live in urban areas by the year 2030. These figures indicate a potential major gap in WASH coverage. Furthermore, the cost of installing WASH facilities is high and there is a great lack of qualified professionals. Ethiopia thus needs construction and service provision companies with well-trained and sufficient workforces of technicians, engineers and office staff to meet its water and sanitation goals.
Towards a Solution
Based on the principles of South-South cooperation, specifically the idea of sharing practices that can be learned, replicated and sustained by the receiving country, Brazil, Ethiopia and UNICEF have partnered to implement water supply and sanitary sewerage services in Ethiopia. Inspired by Brazilian experiences, the initiative is changing the way in which urban communities approach these services in a rapidly urbanizing country. It is a partnership between governments and international organizations that offers a long- term solution to a pressing challenge for a new urban generation and one that can be easily replicated.
The initiative aims to benefit the Ethiopian water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector with policy improvements for basic sanitation in general, with a focus on the WASH regulatory framework in urban sanitary sewerage. It addresses SDG Goal 6 by seeking to implement sustainable practices to work towards guaranteeing access to water and sanitation to all in Ethiopia.
The initiative offers a combination of approaches and methodologies that involve training, sharing of knowledge and technical activities to ensure that the Ethiopian beneficiaries are fully capable of sustaining and expanding the project. The main methodological elements are: sharing of technology through practical and direct technical support; development and implementation of a condominium sewerage pilot project; capacity development through peer review of key documents and on-the-job training; and knowledge- sharing of best practices, documents/manuals and implementation mechanisms.
Initial stages of the initiative have already garnered positive feedback and results for the project. Capacities have been developed at the local level in Ethiopia following a training mission to Ethiopia of Brazilian delegates during which capacities were developed in four regions of the country (Oromia, Amhara, Afar and Tigray) in the areas of independent water regulation for urban settlements, condominium sewerage for high-density population areas, and water resource management. The technology transfer from Brazil to Ethiopia was floated as a tender to a construction company in January 2016, has now been awarded and is under construction, with expected finalization in September 2016. Next steps will include capacity development sessions and virtual support to the technical and operational aspects of the pilot project, followed by the systematization of management and service provision guidelines.
This model of South-South cooperation works by pairing two regions of each country that are similar in terms of geography, challenges, strengths and needs and by building strategies and measures that are not merely replicating what has worked in Brazil but that can be assimilated by Ethiopian managers and validated by its citizens to move towards solutions that are efficient, effective and lasting. The Brazilian models being exchanged offer a proven way of sustainably tackling Ethiopian challenges in the area of WASH. Hence, the role of Brazil in the design and supervision of the implementation process has been essential for the successful achievements.
The sustainability of the initiative is based on both countries’ initial willingness to exchange knowledge and practices, which is being ensured by a formally signed Trilateral South-South Cooperation Project Document between Brazil, Ethiopia and UNICEF. This initial exchange can then pave the way for Ethiopia to continue expanding the initiative through its own means, based on the lessons learned and successful implementation of methods from Brazil.
The initiative is set to be replicated throughout other areas of Ethiopia following the initial phase in Wukro. The established model of condominium sewerage being set up in Wukro has a clear set of steps and guidelines that will contribute to the ease of implementation in other areas once the full process has been assimilated by the Ethiopian counterparts.
The direct beneficiaries will be the managers and technicians of the following federal, regional and municipal Ethiopian institutions: Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Urban Development, Housing and Construction; Wukro Town Administration in Tigray Regional State; Amhara Region Water Resources Development Bureau; and the Oromia Region Water, Mineral and Energy Resources Development Bureau.
In addition to the institutional beneficiaries, it is expected that the pilot project will also have a direct impact on the lives of 859 families residing in the condominiums of Wukro town. Since the project is set to expand to other regions of Ethiopia after the initial pilot stage, the beneficiaries will increase accordingly. Expectations are that the pilot will serve as the basis for scaling up to thousands of condominium blocks across Ethiopia.
Sustainable Development Goal targets: 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.5, 6.a, 6.b
Countries / territories involved: Brazil, Ethiopia
Supported by: Government of Brazil, Government of Ethiopia, UNICEF
Implementing entity: UNICEF
Project status: Ongoing
Project period: 2015-2017
Name: Ms. Michelle Barron, Manager, UNICEF Brazil South-South Cooperation Unit