Published on: 13/05/2021
Local government and Amref Health Africa in Ethiopia representatives signing MOU Photo by: Ephraim Mebrate
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at providing access to WASH for unserved and underserved rural communities in Negelle Arsi and Shashamane districts was signed in Hawassa town on 29 April 2021.
The MoU signing ceremony was in support of the WASH Alliance International’s WASH SDG Programme, a five-year phase-based project implemented in Negelle Arsi and Shashamane districts in West Arsi Zone of Oromia region in Ethiopia. The programme focuses on creating access to communities and institutions that lack access to safe water and sanitation and have poor hygiene behaviour. Implementing partners of the WASH SDG programme are Amref Health Africa in Ethiopia, IRC WASH, Bole Baptist Church, Akvo and Wetlands International.
During phase 2 IRC supports the development of the life-cycle costed woreda WASH master plan, facilitation of national and woreda level learning alliances, budget allocation and expenditure tracking, and advocacy. As well as capturing and sharing of lessons from implementation to inform and shape practices and policies, and provide visibility to the project’s achievements.
The key signatories of the MoU were West Arsi Zone Water and Energy Resource Development Department, Negelle Arsi Town Administration, Negelle Arsi Town Water Supply, and Sewerage Service Enterprise, Shashamane District Water and Energy Resource Development Office, and Amref Health Africa in Ethiopia.
Amref allocated 19.2 million birr out of the total 29.2 million birr required to implement phase 2 of the WASH project. The signatories from government are expected to contribute the remaining 10 million birr as match funding. This can be in the form of labour (mobilising the community to excavate trenches for pipe extensions) and supply of essential construction materials, such as pipes, fittings, pumps, and generators in collaboration with the regional government.
In the first phase (2017-2019), the project reached more than 55,000 people with access to clean water services in Shashamane and Negelle Arsi districts. During the second phase of the project (2021-2022), the WASH SDG Programme plans to provide 55,000 users with sustainable safe water services, 65,000 with sanitation, and 38,750 with hygiene services.
During his opening remark, Abdulselam Gamada, the West Arsi Zone Deputy Head, indicated that the project has achieved an outstanding milestone in terms of reaching the rural households that had a critical shortage of drinking water. He confirmed that the project reached 55,000 people in selected rural kebeles and reiterated the government’s relentless commitment to coordinate with the project to create access for communities that do not have a service during the second phase of the project through mobilising communities and providing construction materials.
Tamene Chaka, a WASH Alliance Coordinator from Amref Health Africa in Ethiopia, also expressed his appreciation for the government’s cooperation in realising phase one and the overall project achievements. He indicated that four boreholes were drilled, twelve water points were constructed, and rehabilitation and extension of an existing water system were completed to serve the 55,000 beneficiaries. He also highlighted challenges encountered during phase one, such as the lengthy and expensive bidding process due to security problems and COVID-19 restrictions. He expressed his optimism for fast and efficient project implementation in the second phase based on key learnings from phase one. He also highlighted that the contractor for water well drilling will start the work in May after the Ethiopian Easter holiday.
The MoU signing ceremony lasted half a day and key project updates were presented during the ceremony by Samuel Girma, a project manager of Amref Shashamane Branch Office. He indicated the feasibility study of drilling sites was completed in collaboration with the local government, a drilling contractor was engaged in completing the procurement process to commence implementation of the second phase project activities.
Based on the phase one programme experience, the signing of the MoU and the leveraging of finance by local government will increase the sense of ownership and bring efficiency through sharing experts and resources to create new access to unserved and underserved communities.