Published on: 06/05/2022
IRC WASH Ethiopia organised the fourth Climate Resilient WASH (CR WASH) learning platform meeting in Batu Town which included a field visit and discussions on learning, policy, leveraging resources. CR WASH is one of the thematic areas of the WASH SDG programme, a five-year programme funded by the Directorate-General for International Cooperation of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS) being implemented in Amhara and Oromia regions. In Oromia Region, the WASH Alliance International (WAI) leads an alliance of members including Amref Health Africa, IRC WASH, Wetlands International (WI), Bole Biblical Baptist Church (BBBC), and Akvo. The purpose of the learning platform is to share experiences, knowledge, and improve WASH service delivery in the Ziway Shalla sub-basin.
On March 30, 2022, the fourth CR WASH learning platform participants met at Batu Town and flew to Gubeta Arjo Village. Wetlands International has worked to organise the community in the area and treated a highly degraded catchment area. The traveling team arrived in the area in the morning and saw how the area is recovering from land degradation, deforestation, and water deficiency. The place is now covered by saplings and grasses and there is a fenced beekeeping site inside. Nature is recovering.
Redwan Muhammed from Wetlands International and the youth in the community narrated the story of the catchment protection site. Three years ago, the area had been highly degraded and was without vegetation. Building soil bunds have reduced erosion and enabled buried seeds in the ground to start growing. Gradually, the degraded land has begun to recover and the groundwater has started to recharge. Presently, the area is covered by acacia saplings.
The programme has created an opportunity for 285 youths in the area, of which 139 are female, to organize a youth association and participate in catchment protection activities. They are starting to use the grass in the area for their livestock, produce honey, and generate revenue from their activities. Fikadu Abraham, the head of the youth association, said that their involvement in catchment treatment and protection rescued the area from drought and soil degradation and the youth in the community are making businesses out of it.
The learning platform participants travelled back to Batu Town and discussed what they saw during the field visit. They appreciated the rehabilitation of the catchment protection site, the effort exerted, and the active engagement of the community. There was also a suggestion to make the area a centre of ecotourism and plant additional trees. It was mentioned that the government has a plan to make the area an ecotourism centre.
As the area has drinking water scarcity, Wetlands International has constructed two water points and is building two additional water points. These will also serve as places to produce seedlings. Till the scarcity of water is solved, there is a plan to produce seedlings during the rainy season.
Arjen Naafs, from IRC WASH, presented a few slides on the policy brief focusing on the three basic points for advocacy and policy influencing to effectively implement CR WASH. The three most important points to focus on in advocating for CR WASH are resilient WASH, water resource management plus WASH, and local-led adaptation activities.
When talking about resilience, he underlined the value of resilient access to water for basic drinking, sanitation, and hygiene needs. He also emphasised the need for integration and coordination of WASH and water resource management. The third most important is local-led adaptation, and Arjen expressed it as a ''...strong driver for achieving SDG 6 target holistically''.
Arjen also showed the threats of climate change on WASH in Negelle Arsi and Shashamane woredas of West Arsi Zone. He said that floods and drought had a triggering effect on poor WASH service delivery, and climate variability is impacting the livelihoods of the community in the area. Moreover, deforestation is resulting in land degradation.
Wetlands International projects the available water will be less than demand in the coming 45 years. To solve this, technical training and awareness creation on natural resource management is required and incorporating the necessity of CR WASH in the climate policies of the country was suggested.
The WASH SDG Programme's implementation of WASH resource leveraging was the next point presented and discussed. Yilkal from Amref Health Africa presented. The effort, successes, and challenges of the two phases of project implementation were depicted in his presentation.
In phase one (July 2018 – June 2020) the target was to reach 55,000 people through water services. In five kebeles of focus districts, the implementing partner, Amref Health Africa, allocated ETB 13 million and leveraged additional resources by creating awareness among zone and woreda administrators and the community. As the total budget needed for the implementation was ETB 23 million, the rest of ETB 10 million was provided by the local government and the community. As a result, they drilled three new deep boreholes and fitted them with pumps, rehabilitated two deep boreholes with 10 new public water points, and trained 21 water management committees and 81 water caretakers. This created safe drinking access for 53,518 people. Currently, the implementation is in its second phase and in good progress.
The challenges experienced during the implementation are delays in borehole drilling, market inflation, an inability to get government partners and community leaders due to competitive assignments, security, a prolonged dry season in some kebeles, the absence of sanitation loans, and uncertainty of masons on the sanitation business. Documentation and sharing of learnings are areas of improvement mentioned.
At the end of the meeting, the learning platform reflected on the need for integration among different partners and initiatives working on CR WASH. Additionally, the learning platform decided to invite other stakeholders engaging in the same practice for the next meeting, to present and discuss opportunities and challenges in implementing CR WASH, the nature-based water shade management practice of Oromia and Sidama regions, and the draft water resource management document.