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The more we explore, the better insight we get on self-supply potential

Published on: 28/11/2014

32 professionals and teams from five woredas in Amhara recently came together for a training workshop on Self-supply acceleration. What did we learn?

From 4-8 November 2014, teams from five woredas in Amhara region came together for a training workshop in Bahar Dar on Self-supply acceleration organised by the Millennium Water Alliance. This followed a similar training in Oromia region held the week before. The participants came from Kelala and Kalu woredas where Catholic Relief Services are working with their partners Water Action and Team, Today and Tomorrow, and Este, Farti and Dera woredas where CARE are focusing their support. WaterAid Ethiopia also participated to see how they may support Self-supply implementation which now forms part of the national strategy to provide universal access to water. Trainers and expert inputs were from IRC, Aqua for All, and the regional micro-finance institution ACSI.

In Self-supply acceleration, as in so many other things, local or woreda government needs to be at the centre. Most woredas were represented at the training by a team covering several critical aspects such as water, health, finance, enterprise and the administration. All these NGOs and woredas are aiming to develop Self-supply acceleration plans that they can then implement to increase the level of investment by households in developing and improving their own water supplies. Many of the existing Self-supply sources, typically hand dug wells, are poorly protected and provide poor quality water as a result. The training workshop covered how to estimate Self-supply potential, how to increase ‘supply’ of products and services needed by households for Self-supply and how to increase ‘demand’ through promotion and better financing. Other topics included how to monitor Self-supply.

As part of the workshop, a team visited nearby Dera woreda for a field visit. There are 31 rural kebeles in Dera with eight of them estimated to have high potential for Self-supply. Shallow groundwater is accessible at around 10 metres and there is a tradition of using family wells for multiple purposes. It is a common practice for a family to have at least one well for its own use. There are a remarkable 2275 family wells in Wenchet kebele alone, which we learned is nearly double the number of households (1355 households). The average depth to ground water level was said to be 10 meters in these areas. Some households report generating a monthly income of 11,000 – 12,000 Birr from the cash crops irrigated by such family wells. The main irrigated crops are khat, and fruits like mango, avocado, papaya, zeyitun and ghesho.

We saw that the wells were mainly unlined, except at the very top as the soil is firm. Lifting devices in use ranged from direct rope and bucket to metal pulley with nylon rope and modified half cut jerrycan. Irrigation methods were similarly basic and nearly always just by bucket. Some families use a single well for all purposes while others have separate wells for domestic and productive purposes. Getahun Ayinalem is one of the farmers in Wenchet with two wells: one is for irrigation, washing and livestock watering and the other is for drinking water supply. Seeing the potential and use of family wells in Wenchet gave us all encouragement and inspiration. You can easily see how support on well improvement for better protection against contaminants and safety would yield results, and how improving lifting efficiency and crop watering practices could save time and energy. 

A different field visit was made to two businesses on the outskirts of Bahar Dar to look at private sector involvement in WASH supply chains. The first was Demeke Batiru and Friends Rope Pump Manufacturer Micro-Enterprise. This business was set up after a training by JICA several years ago had provided the chance to learn how to use their welding skills to make rope pumps. The business has produced 200 rope pumps until now with pumps mainly purchased by the Amhara Water and Mines Bureau and then distributed to households. These days the business is not thriving. We learned that the "rope pump manufacturing business was a moneymaker in the past when demand creation, market linkage and supply chains were facilitated by the regional Water and Mines Bureau and other development partners”. The main challenge was reported to be competition from other businesses who have invaded the market with inferior quality rope pumps. The business looks for new support from development partners and a ban on other producers making bad pumps.

Just up the road, the Zelelam Firehiwot and Friends Metal Products Producer Micro-Enterprise is doing better business. They were established by three members with an initial capital of Birr 3,000 in 2008 but have expanded considerably. Now they have a diversified product portfolio and are involved in the production of (among others) fuel efficient stoves, rope pumps, water tankers, doors and windows. Finance and space for production was facilitated by the Micro and Small Enterprise Agency. The business competes for their assignments by qualifying through bids announced by their clients who are mostly government organizations and government affiliated NGOs. We learned that the enterprise has also sold 150 rope pumps directly as well as bulk orders to Amhara Water and Mines Bureau and Amhara Development Association (230 and 716 rope pumps respectively).

Interviewing the entrepreneurs, the workshop trainees analysed these businesses using the Business Model Canvas tool. They concluded that the single product focus and lack of business skills were the main constraints for the first enterprise, even though they had adequate space and machines to diversify their product range. On the contrary, product diversification and more developed business skills to cover the complete supply chain have enhanced the profit-based sustainability of the second business.

With thanks to Deme Abera for contributions on the business visits.



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