Africa > East Africa > Ethiopia > Water supply and sanitation in Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Water supply and sanitation in Ethiopia

2011/01/03

Access to water supply and sanitation in Ethiopia is one of the lowest in the world. While access has increased substantially with funding from external aid, much still remains to be done to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving the share of people without access to water and sanitation by 2015, to improve sustainability and to improve service quality.

Some factors inhibiting the achievement of these goals are the limited capacity of water bureaus in the country's nine regions and water desks in the 550 woredas; insufficient cost recovery for proper operation and maintenance; and different policies and procedures used by various donors, notwithstanding the Paris declaration on aid effectiveness.

In 2001 the government adopted a water and sanitation strategy that called for more decentralized decision-making;

  • promoting the involvement of all stakeholders,
  • including the private sector;
  • increasing levels of cost recovery;
  • as well as integrating water supply,
  • sanitation and hygiene promotion activities.

Implementation of the policy apparently is uneven. In 2005 the government announced highly ambitious targets to increase coverage in its Plan for Accelerated Sustained Development and to End Poverty (PADEP) for 2010. The investment needed to achieve the goal is about US$ 300 million per year, compared to actual investments of US$ 39 million in 2001-2002. While donors have committed substantial funds to the sector, effectively spending the money and to ensure the proper operation and maintenance of infrastructure built with these funds remain a challenge.

Access

According to the 2000 Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) access to improved water and sanitation was as follows:

* 22% for improved water supply (86% for urban areas and 13% for rural areas)
* 8% for improved sanitation (34% in urban areas, 3% in rural areas)

The World Bank quotes national (urban and rural) access figures of 42% for water and 28% for sanitation for 2005.  These figures, for which no source is given, seem unusually high given the much lower estimates from the 2000 DHS and the absence of a massive investment program between 2000 and 2005.

Service quality

Rationing and service interruptions are frequent. There are no wastewater treatment plants in Ethiopia, so all wastewater collected in sewers is discharged without any treatment to the environment.

Responsibility for water supply and sanitation

In order to understand responsibilities in the sector it is necessary to provide a brief overview of local government in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is a federal state consisting of the following subdivisions:

* nine ethnically based regions or Kililoch with a population between 200,000 and 25 million each;
* 68 Zones with a population between 100,000 and a few million each;
* 550 Woredas or districts, with a population between 10,000 and more than 300,000 each;
* A large number of Kebeles, which constitute the smallest administrative units in Ethiopia.

In addition to the nine regions there are two “chartered cities” (Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa), where the lower-level administrative units mentioned above do not exist.

There is wide disparity in the capacity between the relatively more developed regions (Amhara, Oromia, Southern Nations, Tigray, Harari), where more than 90% of Ethiopians live, and the more pastoralist “emerging” regions (Somali, Afar, Gambella, Benishangul-Gumuz).

Policy and regulation

National policies are set by the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) for the water supply sector and by the Ministry of Health for sanitation. In October 2006 a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by both Ministries, as well as by the Ministry of Environment, to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each Ministry.

Regional Water Bureaus and Woreda Water Desks are in charge of investment planning, monitoring and technical assistance to service providers. Their capacity to fulfill these tasks is often limited.

Water supply

Formally the MWR's mandate covers only water resources management and it has no legal mandate concerning drinking water supply. Nevertheless, de facto it is the entity in charge of setting policies for water supply and to channel donor funds in the sector to local government entities. MWR has 737 employees in eight departments and 10 "services". One of the eight departments is the Water Supply and Sewerage Department. The former Minister of Water Resources was Shiferaw Jarso, an irrigation engineer and politician from the Oromo Peoples' Democratic Organization (OPDO) which forms part of the ruling coalition government. Asfaw Dingamo is the current Minister of Water Resources.

In 2001 the government adopted a National Water Strategy prepared by the MWR. The overall strategy includes a water resources strategy, a hydropower development strategy, a water supply and sanitation strategy, and an irrigation strategy

Concerning water supply and sanitation, the strategy aims at:

* More decentralized decision-making
* Promoting the involvement of all stakeholders, including the private sector
* Increasing levels of cost recovery
* Integrating water supply, sanitation and hygiene promotion activities.

The strategy document does not include a diagnostic of the current situation. The water and sanitation part of the strategy alone includes 44 recommendations concerning technical, institutional, capacity building, social, economic and environmental issues. There is no priorization between the recommendations and the strategy does not establish mechanisms to monitor the implementation of the strategy.

Sanitation

The Ministry of Health is in charge of policies related to sanitation and hygiene promotion. It has adopted a Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Strategy. De facto sewers in urban areas are under the responsibility of the MWR, while only the promotion of on-site sanitation is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health.

Service provision

Urban areas

In the capital the Addis Ababa Water and Sewer Authority provides water and sewer services. In other cities and small towns Town Water Boards are responsible for service provision. They are expected to contract out service provision to private operators.

Rural areas

In rural areas community water and sanitation committees operate water systems and promote sanitation. They are supported by woreda water and sanitation teams.

Other

Regional water resources development bureaus play an important role in planning investments at the regional level and in capacity building.

The Ethiopian Social Rehabilitation and Development Fund (ERSDF) – a Social Fund established in 1996 - is also an important actor, especially in rural areas. It has financed almost 2,000 rural water projects serving about 2.5 million people. However, the government has decided to phase out the ERSDF and to re-deploy its staff to other institutions.

Recent developments

Creation of the Ministry of Water Resources (1995)

The Ministry was created in 1995. It took over many of the responsibilities of the water resources department of the former Ministry of Public Works.

Decentralization (since 1995)

Until 1995 the national government was responsible for planning and implementing water and sanitation projects. Under the 1995 constitution Ethiopia became a federal state, which implied the decentralization of many functions to lower levels of government. This process has now been under way for more than a decade, but decentralization has been hampered by the limited capacity of local government to carry out its new responsibilities.

National Water Resources Management Policy and related programs (1999-2002)

In 1999 the government adopted a National Water Resources Management Policy, which was followed by the establishment of a Water Resources Development Fund (2002) and a Water Sector Development Program. The latter includes a water supply and sewerage development program (nota bene the focus on sewerage and thus the absence of on-site sanitation from the program).

Plan for Accelerated Sustained Development and to End Poverty 2005

The government’s PADEP, covering the period 2005-2010, aims at increasing access to improved water supply to 84% and access to improved sanitation to 80% by 2010. These ambitious targets go well beyond the water and sanitation targets of the Millennium Development Goals, which aim at halving the share of people without access by 2015. Given very low current coverage levels, institutional weaknesses and financing constraints it is unclear how this ambitious target should be achieved.

Tariffs and cost recovery

On average cost recovery is too low to recover operating costs, not to speak of providing adequate maintenance of facilities; Recurrent expenditures - estimated at US$ 29 million in 2001-02 - were financed primarily through user charges (64%), as well as by subsidies from the regional governments (31%) and the federal government (5%). Despite this overall bleak picture, a few service providers recover all operating costs and generate a modest cash surplus.

The National Water Resources Management Policy aims at full cost recovery for urban systems and recovery of operation and maintenance costs for rural systems. It is not clear if progress has been made to achieve this ambitious objective since the policy was adopted.

Investment and financing

Level

There are no reliable estimates of actual investment levels in the sector, and available estimates vary greatly.

Actual investments

A detailed estimate of investment and financial flows in the Ethiopian water sector was carried out by the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) for the financial year 2001-02. It estimated total sector investments at US$ 39 million or less than half a dollar per capita, being one of the lowest recorded sector investment levels in the world.

Investment projections

The government estimates that annual investments in the 2006-2015 period will reach about US$ 100 million per year, or about two and a half times their level in 2001-2002. This projection is based on funding commitments made by donors and the government.It thus does not take into account bottlenecks in implementation due to limited capacities or other potential pitfalls.

The World Bank projects the 2008 investment level at US$ 100 million, including resources from a 5-year US$ 100 million World Bank loan for urban water supply and sanitation approved in 2007 and not yet disbursed.

Investment needs

The World Bank has estimated that the annual cost of achieving the government’s targets to increase coverage until 2010 are about US$ 400 million “in the first few years” and falling to US$ 200 million “in later years”. A detailed estimate by the government as part of its MDG Needs Assessment Report estimated investment needs at US$ 297 million per year for the period 2006-2015, roughly in line with the World Bank estimate.

In any case, actual investments are only a fraction - about one tenth - of what would be needed to achieve the government’s goals.

Financing

According to the WSP estimate quoted above, in 2001-2002 only 9% of sector investments were funded by the federal budget, 55% through the regional budget, 33% off-budget by NGOs, 2% by the ERSDF and 1% by other sources. This estimate does not include community in-kind contributions, which are high for rural water supply and sanitation. A high but unknown share of the federal budget and probably also of the Woreda budget devoted to the sector is funded by donors.

Concerning projected investments for 2006-2015, it is estimated that 12% (US$ 12 million) will be funded by the government with its own resources, 15% (US$ 16 million) by communities and 73% (US$ 75 million) by donors. It is not clear if this estimate includes off-budget support by NGOs. Because of the different categories used, a comparison between the historical and projected sources of financing is not possible.

Processes

The financing system has evolved in line with the policy of decentralization. Thus, for example, the country's 550 Woredas now receive block grants from the central government and then can decide autonomously how to use these grants within broad criteria set by the Water Resources Development Fund (WRDF).[3] The WRDF is administered by a Board that is responsible to the MWR and is funded through budgetary allocations and donor funds.

External assistance

Donors finance a myriad of projects in water supply and sanitation in Ethiopia with different policies and implementation arrangements – some through the Federal Government and some directly to regions, towns and communities. As a result, according to the World Bank, transaction cost are high.

World Bank

* US$ 100 million credit/grant for urban water supply and sanitation approved in 2007
* US$ 100 million credit for water supply and sanitation approved in 20

African Development Bank

US$64 million grant for rural water supply and sanitation approved in 2005

Other donors

Other important donors in the sector are the EU, UNDP, UNICEF, AFD, FINIDA, JICA, GTZ, KfW, CIDA, DFID and the Netherlands.[19] There are also about 500 local and foreign NGOs, many of which are active in water supply and sanitation

Comments

Related Articles
  • Kessem Irrigation Dam Nears Completion in Ethiopia

    2014/06/15 The Kessem irrigation dam, bearing the same name with a sugar development project, is nearing completion, said Federal Water Works Design and Supervision Enterprise. The irrigation dam, which will have the capacity to develop 20,000 hectares of land in Afar region of Ethiopia, is 99 % complete, according to the consultant - Federal Water Works Design and Supervision Enterprise. Located inside the rift valley region, the construction of the dam proved daunting with the contractor Federal Water Works Construction Enterprise facing geological challenges.
  • The Chief Executive Officer of the newly-formed Ethiopian Electric Power, Azeb Asnake

    2014/06/04 The Chief Executive Officer of the newly-formed Ethiopian Electric Power, Azeb Asnake (Eng.), has just won the "Women in Construction Excellence Award." Azeb on Thursday received the award at the end of the African Construction Exhibition at the Sandton Convention Center in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Women in Construction Excellence Award is organized annually with the view of recognizing the contribution of female professionals in Africa's built environment. The award was organized by the African Construction Expo in collaboration with the South African Ministry of Public Works. This year 11 finalists were announced under three categories- industry transformation, emerging excellence and Africa project leader. Azeb won the award under the Africa project leader category. Azeb, prior to her current position at the Ethiopian Electric Power, served as project manager of the Gilgel Gibe III hydropower project.
  • Ethiopian Airlines’ (ET) taking delivery of the Boeing B787 Dreamliner

    2014/06/02 Seven received and three to go – that is the story of Ethiopian Airlines’ (ET) taking delivery of the world’s instantly most advanced aircraft, the Boeing B787 Dreamliner, the initial airline in Africa to get this revolutionary new bird and the one with the major fleet at present which by the end of 2014 will have grown to 10 such aircraft. ET’s CEO Tewolde Gebremariam was quoted in the media to have said at the same time as welcoming the new bird home: “As Africa’s flagship carrier, Ethiopian has always been and remains aviation technology leader in the continent by availing the majority advanced aircraft to its esteemed customers. We currently have the youngest fleet in Africa with an average age of 7 years. In line with our 15 year strategic roadmap of fast, profitable and sustainable increase, Vision 2025, we will continue to expand and modernize our fleet in order to continue to provide maximum comfort to our customers.”
  • Addis Abeba will soon see the benefits of the ongoing Light Rail Transit (LRT) project.

    2014/05/20 Addis Abeba will any minute at this time see the benefits of the ongoing Light Rail Transit (LRT) project. The challenge will again be to manage the rail system along with the existing transport modalities. With the rail being a mass transport system, however, it will be a game changer in the sphere. From presently on, some of the possible negative impacts of the system ought to be given full attention from the outset. The Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC) is engaged in both urban and cross-country railway line projects that will undoubtedly bring fundamental changes in both the socio-economic increase of East African nations in general and Ethiopia in particular. My focus, however, will be on Light Rail Transit (LRT) project, which is to be completed in the not too distant next, according to reports.