Skip to main content


Published on: 01/05/2013

International Development Enterprise (iDE) believe that "in technology, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Since 2007, they have been getting new innovations to Ethiopian farmers, with more than 100,000 reached to date. We interviewed Eden Kassaye, until recently the WASH partnership coordinator, to learn more about iDEs work.

iDE at a glance

iDE is an international non-profit working to create income and livelihood opportunities for poor rural households.  Instead of handouts or subsidies, iDE focus on enabling households to get access to simple, affordable technologies that they purchase proudly. By building up functioning supply chains and market systems, when the funding dries up, the system remains. 

Key activities: Some major areas of activity in WASH include building local supply chains, promotion of new technologies, and creating linkages with credit suppliers and markets for rural households. The design and adaptation of irrigation and sanitation technologies includes treadle pumps, rope and washer pumps, manual well drilling and latrine slabs. Approaches used include Sanitation Marketing and Self Supply Acceleration. 

Where iDE work: iDE reach 65 woredas in four regions working in Tigray, SNNPR, Oromia, and Amhara.

Find out more:

Contact iDE:  Kebede Ayele is the iDE Ethiopia Country Director and can be reached at +251-11-467-2906/7/8 (office),  +251-91-151-0668 (mobile), or by email,

Interview with Eden Kassaye      

iDE are not afraid to innovate, because they know we all want the latest and the newest gear. This applies to rural households and to toilets as well as cell phones. The roots of iDE go back to a Somalian refugee camp in 1982, when founder Paul Polak re-engineered the local donkey cart to bring more economic opportunities to refugees. 

Some major activities of IDE over the past year in WASH, says Eden, have been training artisans in manual well drilling and designing a toilet for rural households. Sanitation is a field in need of new products and new approaches to drive up standards. If pharmacies, private sector companies in the health sector, are flourishing why should sanitation businesses not be doing the same. 

The original product idea for the new  toilet stems from the grassroots level and ideas of 'human-centered design' (an approach that iDE use in all technology design and adaptation). Recognising a scarcity of water, the designers focused on a dry toilet, and since pit collapse was not an issue in the area, the team focused on the slab. With cement now a low-cost material and curing skills locally available, the final product was a 87kg dome slab some 1.2m in diameter, with a drophole cover and a ventpipe. These kind of details reveal how iDE work carefully on product design. The solid design makes users feel safe and iDE are looking for a product that people will desire to drive wider uptake and changes in behavior. Orders from trained manufacturers seem to be promising.

Much of iDE's efforts lie in promotion, awareness creation and marketing of affordable household technologies. Mobile-battery operated projectors are often used to promote a new technology – showing films at the farmers training centre or at the kebele administration office. 

Dutch funding through UNICEF supports activities on self- supply acceleration and sanitation marketing. The UNICEF project focuses on key activities such as identification and mapping of ground water potential area, development of enterprises, development of local supply chains for household water technologies and the design of latrine products and its associated business model for rural households. 

Eden Kassaye has left iDE since this interview was undertaken.

Useful links