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Published on: 14/11/2023

In Ethiopia, high rates of population growth and urbanisation make it difficult to provide WASH services to millions of people. Poor sanitation is linked to poor health conditions such as diarrhoeal diseases, the second cause of death for children under the age of five years in Ethiopia, and stunting. According to the latest JMP data of 2022, Ethiopia's safely managed sanitation coverage is only 7% at the national level and 18% in urban areas.

City-Wide Inclusive Sanitation

As vibrant WASH sector actors, UNICEF and IRC Ethiopia (with financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) collaborated towards changing this poor sanitation situation in Ethiopia through piloting the City-Wide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS) method in four small towns:  Sheno and Welenchiti in Oromia region, Maksegnit in Amhara region and Kebridehar in Somali Region. Implementing CWIS is relatively new for Ethiopia.

City-Wide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS) advocates the integration of financial, institutional, regulatory, and social aspects of sanitation service delivery. The approach requires relevant authorities to demonstrate political will, technical capacity, and management leadership related to urban services such as water supply, drainage, and solid waste management. CWIS aims to help cities develop comprehensive approaches to sanitation improvement that encompass long-term planning, technical innovation, institutional reforms, and financial mobilisation. Generally, CWIS focuses on service provision and its enabling environment, rather than on building infrastructure.

Diagnostic assessment

Every successful implementation starts with understanding the existing situation and the way forward as well as having a clear roadmap and thorough plan. The CWIS initiative in Ethiopia started by conducting a diagnostic assessment (fig. 1) to better understand the current sanitation situation in the four pilot towns.

Diagnositc assessment process

Fig.1: Diagnostic assessment process

In each of the four towns, the sanitation stakeholders namely: town administration, finance office, municipal office, water office, health office, education office, women and children affairs office and private operators, came together and decided on a shared roadmap and a comprehensive, detailed and costed sanitation plan for their respective towns to be used in short, medium and long term.

The diagnostic assessment uses a mix of data collection methods and tools. These include stakeholder mapping and analysis, which helped identify the key stakeholders as well as classifying them based on their level of interest and influence on how sanitation is being managed in these towns. Additionally, we conducted a municipal solid waste (MSW) assessment using UN-Habitat’s  Waste Wise Cities Tool (WaCT), a service level assessment, a shit flow diagram (SFD) analysis, sustainability checks, and a City Service Delivery Assessment (CSDA).

CWIS masterplan

Using the CWIS approach, the four towns identified opportunities and challenges and ways to overcome the challenges that lead to the development of a costed CWIS master plan. The master plan has been finalised and validated by the key stakeholders and will be implemented till 2030. The initiative also created an opportunity for the town stakeholders to have a coordination mechanism through this roadmap and in terms of setting (or renewing) a very bold vision, mission and realistic long-, middle- and short-term targets as well as core activities with an indicative budget. Now, towns know where they are and where they are heading as well as the strategic directions for both sanitation services and solid waste management services.

The costing of the CWIS masterplan was done using the life-cycle cost approach and applied considering the existing and projected population, technologies needed for service delivery, and the overall operational costs to provide sustainable services. The life-cycle cost approach incorporates all cost components for delivering sustainable WASH services (capital expenditure, capital maintenance expenditure, operation and maintenance expenditure, direct support and indirect support costs). While the income (sources of funding) needed to realise the vision and achieve targets comes from taxes (through local government investment), tariffs (user contributions, in the form of volumetric or time-based tariffs), and transfers (funding from development partners and NGOs).

During the CWIS master plan development process, the main challenge was the various overlapping roles of stakeholders. For example, customers are not sure whether the municipality or the water utility provides pit emptying services. Except for hygiene promotion, it wasn’t clear which other activities the health office provided. The other challenge was stakeholders never met or shared information except through official reporting channels. This delayed the start of the master plan development process and the creation of a team sprint within the towns.

Collective action

Wolenchiti town stakeholders during the CWIS business plan development process

Fig. 2: Welenchiti town stakeholders during the CWIS business plan development process. Photo credit: Michael Abera / IRC Ethiopia

The CWIS initiative has already served as a key coordination mechanism allowing the town stakeholders to come together for collective action and sharing responsibility on guiding and managing sanitation-related activities in the four towns. Additionally, the process created a very good opportunity for communication and collaboration among the town institutions, which had never happened before. Now the town stakeholders have finalised and endorsed the CWIS master plan and have started its implementation by linking their annual plan with the overall vision and targets. Generally, master plan implementation involves short-, medium- and long-term planning cycles, and each of these phases consist of detailed planning of activities, outputs and quantifying needed resources within the broader strategic directions. The town institutions will establish core groups and meet up on a quarterly basis to review the implementation progress, develop and agree on annual plans every year as well as keep track of the master plan by reviewing the inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and expenditures.

Note: this blog draws from the draft version of the UNICEF WASH Reference Guide "City-wide inclusive sanitation master plans in Ethiopia". 

Acknowledgements: this blog was reviewed by Tsegaye Yeshiwas and Cor Dietvorst and copy-edited by Tettje van Daalen


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