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Reporting on Ethiopia's first Self-supply Acceleration training session

Published on: 24/09/2013

The town of Butajira was awash with self-supply acceleration tips when 25 participants came together for a three-day training event.

Self-supply – household-led investment in the development of water supplies – is part of Ethiopia’s approach to rural water supply. It is expected to make a major contribution, along with conventional approaches, in providing access to water for all Ethiopians. Picking up this challenge, a group of self-supply champions, experts and interested individuals and organisations met in the town of Butajira from 19-21 September for the 1st Self-supply Acceleration training. Self-supply acceleration activities aim to encourage and support households to develop their own water supplies.

Self-supply is expected to make a major contribution, along with conventional approaches, in providing access to water for all Ethiopians.

Butajira is located in Meskan woreda in SNNPR, a woreda where Self-supply already makes an above average contribution to drinking water supply. Meskan was one of the study woredas for research reported in the Hidden Resource, is one of the woreda’s participating in the JICA-supported Rope Pump project, and it is also close to Ziway where the NGO International Development Enterprises (IDE) have been promoting manual drilling and rope pumps.

Over 3 days, 25 participants from government (at federal, regional and woreda levels), NGOs and related projects and organisations, followed a new Self-supply acceleration curriculum. The participants included teams representing water, agricultural, health and administration from 3 woredas that aim to be pioneers in implementing Self-supply acceleration. These include Meskan where Self-supply is developing for multiple uses (MUS) including small-scale irrigation, and there is particular interest in the rope pump. Secondly, Dudga in Oromia, a woreda that is relatively wealthy in some respects due to its horticultural production, but suffers from high fluoride levels in water supplies. Amongst other interventions, defluoridation technologies are being promoted at household level here. In Ejere, also in Oromia, extensive shallow groundwater resources are developed by households for agricultural production and other uses.

Other participants were experts in Self-supply in their own right and there was much learning and sharing amongst the group. They included representatives of the Self-supply team in the Ministry of Water and Energy (MoWE) at federal level where current activities include promoting manual drilling and enterprise development in 5woredas(1 each in 5 regions). Amongst the participants were also managers of three other critical projects that are piloting Self-supply: the JICA-supported Rope Pump project is linking its activities (in 4 woredas in SNNPR) to the Self-supply Acceleration Programme (SSAP); the UNICEF-supported integrated WASH/Multiple-Use Services/nutrition project includes Self-supply as one of its interventions (to be implemented by IDE in 15 woredas); and as part of the Millennium Water Alliance Ethiopia (MWA-E) programme CRS is supporting piloting of Self-supply acceleration in Dugda.

The training curriculum was supported by two new draft guidelines developed by the MoWE with support of IRC. A ‘planning and implementation guideline’ for Self-supply Acceleration includes 8 modules on assessing potential, creating demand, technology introduction, private sector development, financing, coordination, action planning and monitoring. This sits alongside a ‘technical guideline’ covering source construction, water lifting, household water treatment, small-scale irrigation and related technologies.

The training intentionally brought together staff from different departments and disciplines. Links to agriculture are obvious since Self-supply investments are often directed to productive uses (small-scale irrigation and livestock) as much as drinking and other domestic uses. In various contributions, Tamene Gossa from UNICEF and Eyasu Mamo from the SNNPR Bureau of Water Resources made a strong case for why Self-supply acceleration must also integrate Household Water Treatment and Storage. Risks of contamination between source and consumption are considered high but have been largely neglected while we have focused on source water quality and improvement. There are links to sanitation as well as hygiene. Eyasu Mamo reminded us that the 15 litres per capita per day target of government is not enough for hygiene and sanitation. For some, Self-supply fills that gap by providing a greater quantity of water for washing, cleaning and other sanitation and hygiene-related practices.

Identification of the outcomes needed to scale-up and improve self-supply, such as raised awareness and increased willingness of households to invest, is critical.

Tibebu Terefe from the Bureau of Water Mineral & Energy presented Oromia’s ambitious plans to accelerate the development of water supplies over the next two years to meet 2015 targets. This relies fifty-fifty on 1) conventional rural water supplies and 2) alternative low-cost approaches including Self-supply, small-group projects and household water treatment. The implementation package that has been developed includes two Self-supply focused packages: one on improving and upgrading existing Hand Dug Wells (HDWs), and one on promoting new HDWs. The activities envisaged relate to source development, lifting mechanisms, and water treating technologies, with supply chain development and private sector enterprise support being an important component of capacity development. The targets are overall to reach 6.3 million people at a cost of 168 million Birr through this package of low-cost approaches including targeting for Self-supply (that don’t consider sharing) of 11000 upgraded and 35000 new hand-dug wells respectively. Woreda’s and the regional government have committed money in this year’s budget to the programme. A critical question was whether Self-supply’s contribution to coverage will be officially counted.

A critical distinction that was made between monitoring conventional WASH projects and Self-supply is that the number of Self-supply facilities constructed by households are likely to be counted as an impact (the long-term benefit) whereas facilities built by a more conventional programme would be counted as outputs. Critical is identification of the outcomes needed to scale-up and improve Self-supply, such as raised awareness and increased willingness of households to invest.

In the monitoring session we also discussed some of the first results we have seen from the National WASH Inventory (NWI). The household survey of the NWI (Form 5) included the question ‘from where does the household take most of its drinking water?’. Two possible responses (out of 10) were: 9) Self-supply in or near compound (i.e. own source) or 10) Neighbours Self-supply (i.e. sharing a source). In SNNPR, about 1% households reported getting their main drinking water supply from their own source, with another 1% using a neighbour’s supply. In total this amounts to some 85000 households in the region. Importantly, it does not indicate how many people use Self-supply as a secondary source for water for sanitation or for productive uses while this is common (with often a small amount of drinking water being collected from a protected communal source). These numbers do provide a useful minimum estimate of the number of sources, showing that Self-supply exists but does not yet make a widespread contribution to drinking-water supply in most places (there are exceptions where Self-supply provides around 20% drinking water supplies in some woreda's and as much as 50% in certain kebeles). The need and potential for scaling-up Self-supply is also shown: some 29% take their drinking water from surface sources (a river, lake or pond) and a further 31% people drink from unprotected community sources (springs or wells). Self-supply is one potential way to improve the water supplies being consumed by these groups of households, which together total some 2.5 million families.

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