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Costs and gaps in the financing of water services in the Ethiopia

Published on: 25/05/2019

The government's flagship Climate Resilient Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (CR-WASH) initiative focuses on lowland investments in 'resilient' technologies such as deep boreholes and more resilient piped water infrastructure. These seek to displace emergency humanitarian interventions in drought-prone regions such as Afar and Somali through sustained development and improved water security. 

Mile in Afar is an example of a woreda (district) that may benefit substantially from such 'big' investments. Water supplies in Mile rely upon a mix of technologies but groundwater is fairly deep and motorized pumping, largely dependent on diesel power generators, is common.

South Ari in SNNPR is arguably more typical of the Ethiopia highlands than the lowlands. Water supply systems tap relatively shallow aquifers utilizing simpler technologies such as hand dug or shallow drilled wells and hand pumps. These lower cost technologies are typical of many of the investments made to date under the One WASH National Program.

The 'high' and 'low' cost models of rural water supply are currently under the spotlight with a general shift towards more resilient investments and more piped schemes underway. While the two case study woredas will not be typical of many other contexts, they provide a good lens to examine the issue in financing rural water services. In both woredas the services largely depend on voluntary village-based Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committees (WASHCOs) managing facilities under a community management model.

The briefing note in the Resources list below provides a current briefing on financing of rural water services in lowland Ethiopia based on case studies from Mile in Afar and South Ari in SNNPR. These used Life Cycle Costs Analysis (LCCA) tools to identify critical gaps in current financing. The briefing note is intended to help policy- and decision-makers at national and regional levels reflect on the growing challenge of financing sustainable services.