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Published on: 17/02/2014

Ethiopia has a rapidly growing modern economy, and huge strides have been made in extending access to water and sanitation. But the country is still home to some 39 million people without access to safe drinking water. One in four communal water schemes is broken, and other challenges to be overcome include poor water quality and the long distances and times associated with water collection.

We do this by finding niches where we can add value to the efforts of others, rather than duplicate their work.

In rural areas, sanitation access is actually better than water access, with 60 per cent of households having access to latrine facilities, but there are similar concerns about sustaining open-defecation free status, the quality of facilities, and a lack of progress in improving sanitation. There are also major gaps in provision of water and sanitation outside the home, including in health clinics and schools.

IRC has been working in Ethiopia for more than a decade. Achieving the target of universal access to water and sanitation remains a top priority for us. IRC Ethiopia works closely with the Ethiopian government, especially the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy and the Ministry of Health. We support government and its development partners, including NGOs, to implement the ‘One WASH National Programme’ vision of an effective and co-ordinated sector in the country.

We do this by finding niches where we can add value to the efforts of others, rather than duplicate their work. Our activities concentrate on practical ways to do things better; for example, priority areas we currently emphasise include innovations in service delivery, such as community-managed projects financed through micro-finance institutions.

We are also a member of the Millennium Water Alliance Ethiopia programme, which counts amongst its members some of the largest NGO WASH programmes in the country. We play a unique role in this alliance, helping the implementing organisations we work with to experiment and scale up innovations that improve service delivery, and to share their best practices with others through our research and communications work.

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