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The Multi-Stakeholder Forum - popularly know as the MSF - is the key annual WaSH sector event in Ethiopia. At the end of 2015, the One WaSH National Program was again in the spotlight.

The MSF has emerged as the main annual WaSH sector event in Ethiopia. Since 2007, the forum has brought together government, donors and NGOs to jointly review progress of the WaSH sector and facilitate harmonization and alignment. At the forum, sector priorities are set in the form of jointly agreed undertakings for the coming year. 

The 7th Annual WASH Ethiopia Multi-Stakeholder Forum (MSF) held from 16-17 December 2015 focused on the theme 'Priority for One WaSH National Program'. The One WaSH National Program (OWNP) is the world's largest sector-wide approach to WASH, and it is gathering speed, so this was a vital meeting.

IRC contributes to the One WaSH National Programme through projects related to improving monitoring and knowledge management, and promoting the testing and uptake of innovations in WASH services delivery such as Community Managed Projects, and Self-supply Acceleration. It was a pleasure that we made really strong contributions to the forum this year. Three of our staff made presentations at the forum on government-led sector monitoring, sustainability checks, and engagement of the private sector (as part of monitoring support to UNICEF/DFID and the One WASH Plus Programme). Our work with the Millenium Water Alliance to support the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy in Self-supply was also presented.

M&E of the One WaSH National Programme was high on the agenda at the forum and widely discussed, with one of the three parallel streams dedicated to M&E and knowledge management. After presenting our work with the National WaSH Coordination Office (technical and managerial support for OWNP M&E with Coffey International Development and funded by DFID) to help strengthen and develop national WASH M&E systems, we followed the M&E stream with keen interest and took notes as M&E came up in the plenary debates too. We left with a list of WASH M&E critical issues for 2016:

  • How to build upon the reporting mechanisms established for the Consolidated WaSH Account to report on the whole OWNP?
  • As WASHCO legalisation gathers pace nationwide, how will the related databases be standardised and linked to national level databases?
  • How are water quality monitoring systems being strengthened - as this issue receives increased attention – and linked to sector monitoring?
  • Will water resources monitoring – such as the groundwater monitoring and catchment protection efforts in towns – be linked to WASH monitoring systems?
  • How to harmonise WASH indicators further with international monitoring efforts, for example around the issues of shared sanitation and the increased focus given by the JMP to extra-household settings?
  • How to draw further upon global capacities such as the JMP, TrackFin, GLAAS, GEMI and SWA monitoring processes to strengthen national sector monitoring?
  • What role in monitoring will the planned sector regulator take on and will this include the affordability of services?
  • How will we make best use of the WASH components of major household surveys planned by the CSA in 2016 such as the LSMS and DHS?
  • How to link monitoring of emergency needs to wider efforts such as tracking of critical indicators (5 litres of water per day)?
  • How to monitor Self-supply which has been a focus of phase 1 of the OWNP but not counted towards targets?

Early in the New Year, IRC is looking forward to take up some of these issues through the upcoming implementation phase of our support to the National WaSH Coordination Office.

There is clearly a lot to build on. To give a couple of examples, we enjoyed hearing about IBNET and the progress made to track the performance of urban water supply utilities. Their data illustrate the challenge and importance of the GTP2 agenda to drive up service levels. Average water consumption in urban areas was said to be only 35 lpcd and much less where people depend on public taps (10 lpcd). But we also heard that all utilities are selling water below production costs. And we learned about how strengthened management and incentives have been tested by Aquaya with operators and laboratories to improve water quality surveillance. When management and payments were beefed up, monitoring happened.

We look forward to the next MSF and sharing more monitoring (and other) experiences. In the meantime, and to keep up the momentum from the M&E session, we have the idea of promoting more learning on WASH M&E through a dedicated virtual group for Ethiopia. We would love to hear from anyone interested to join or help give life to such a group!

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