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Learning in Butajira: a capital of Self-supply

Published on: 04/11/2015

From 7-9 September 2015, IRC, the Millennium Water Alliance- Ethiopia Program (MWA-EP) and the Ministry of Water Irrigation and Energy (MoWIE) facilitated a national learning retreat on Self-supply. Participants came together in Butajira: a small town in Meskan in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region region, but a big capital of Self-supply activities within the country.

The learning retreat aimed to contribute to building up a national network on Self-supply. This effort goes beyond the remit of the national Self-supply Task Force to also engage regional governments and more NGOs partners, helping develop the capacity to implement Self-supply acceleration as a part of wider government and WaSH sector plans. The retreat involved responsible staff at MoWIE, regional government Self-supply focal persons (Oromia, SNNPR, Benishangul Gumuz, Afar, Tigray, and Gambela participated), the JICA WAS-RoPSS project and MWA-EP partners from different NGOs (including CARE, CRS, World Vision, Water Action, Team Today & Tomorrow and Meki Catholic Secretariat).

The participants arrived with rather different levels of understanding and experience in implementing Self-supply acceleration.Some of the participants were relatively new to the Self-supply topic while others were old hands. Everyone left with at least a sound knowledge of the basic concepts of Self-supply and Self-supply acceleration. Updates were shared on what is going on at national level with respect to policies, plans and coordination and including how Self-supply fits into the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP2; 2016-20). All regions shared experiences through presentations on their Self-supply acceleration activities. Currently active Self-supply acceleration projects such as the MWA-EP Self-supply acceleration project and the JICA supported WAS-RoPSS project were also presented and their contribution to scaling up Self-supply discussed. In addition, all existing Self-supply research documents, policies, and planning guidelines were summarized, presented and shared with participants in hard copy and digitally.

The retreat also included field visits to households that have invested because of a Self-supply acceleration implementation process and developed their own facilities. These were mainly rope pump installed protected hand dug wells as promoted under the JICA supported WAS-RoPSS project. Retreat participants discussed with the facility owners about why and how they started to develop such wells, the use of the water, technical support and financing issues.

Oromia and SNNPR are leading the way nationally in Self-supply. In the case of Oromia, the group-led Self-supply model with provision of hand pumps to a group of households as a subsidy is common. Private sector engagement and linking groups of households with micro-finance institutions (MFIs) is rare. Generally the approach is to build capacity of the woreda water offices to provide support to communities through provision of transportation facilities. Oromia has distributed 100 motor cycles to woreda water office to support self-supply acceleration. The political commitment and engagement of decision makers has been used to support mass mobilization.

Through group-based Self-supply in the 2007 Ethiopian year, the region reports 4680 new and 1087 upgraded hand dug wells (all fitted with Afridev hand pumps) and the development of 5,537 spring-on-spot schemes reaching a total of 2,143,536 people. The average subsidy based on the total cost of the constructed facility is said to be about 30%. In the case of hand dug wells, the regional and/or woreda water bureaux/offices provide technical support and the Afridev hand pumps. Critically, all these water supply facilities have been counted towards the regions water supply coverage.

It is also reported that, as part of the same effort, some 18,000 family wells have been developed by families (household-led Self-supply). However, these were not counted in the regional water supply coverage.

The region has now selected well-performing zones for awards from the regional president. Jimma, North Showa and West Wollega are the best performing zones according to the presentation from the region.

In the case of SNNPR, Self-supply has also captured the attention of political leaders, but has also involved some private sector actors such as area mechanics and MFIs (the government-affiliated Omo Micro-finance). Here the focus is on the rope pump as a Self-supply technology. Procurement has included: rope pumps (with 10,000 in distribution), 135 sets of manual well drilling tools, and 135 tripods. The region has also identified potential kebeles for Self-supply acceleration. The 10,000 rope pumps will be distributed through three modalities: 1) individual households who can pay at once will get the rope pump from the woreda with technical support, 2) individual households who cannot pay at once are linked with MFIs (JICA/WAS-RoPSS model); and 3) group of households who can construct their wells by themselves are then provided with a rope pump (for free).

Some key points that were raised and discussed were: whether we can consider the approach as followed by both Oromia and SNNPR as really Self-supply; the challenges arising if we miss some self-supply acceleration activities/components during implementation; and monitoring and reporting the achievement of the regions.

The Ministry (MoWIE) used the opportunity at the retreat to evaluate the agreed action points from the March 2015 Self-supply acceleration consultative workshop including assignment of Self-supply focal persons at regional level. New action points from this retreat were then agreed. They included:

  • Harmonizing and aligning Self-supply acceleration plans with GTP2/OWNP
  • Initiating further Self-supply acceleration networking and knowledge sharing
  • Familiarization with the Self-supply acceleration procedures/activities (reading all the documents we shared) and ensuring all the necessary activities in self-supply acceleration
  • Identify the gaps and the need for self-supply acceleration
  • Strengthening coordination at all levels
  • Counting and recording Self-supply acceleration activities on reporting formats within the OWNP

And my personal thoughts? I found the retreat really interesting as it revealed that Self-supply is present in almost in all regions and I met so many new colleagues and Self-supply champions. More critically, I found a clear understanding on how to plan and implement Self-supply acceleration comprehensively to be missing initially, and that will clearly be a big challenge for us all. The regions and others are all picking up the idea and trying to implement it differently. That may be for good or bad. I am encouraged though that the retreat really added value, and we went some way towards getting a common understanding on planning and implementing Self-supply. I will definitely try and organise another retreat next year and do please contact me if you are interested to participate. I hope then we will also have all regions participating. I am sure others like Amhara and Somali have something to share too.

 

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