Published on: 09/11/2023
The visiting team at Shishir Kebele of South Ari Woreda Photo by Muhammed Ebrahim
The South Ari woreda/district's water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector heads, the woreda administrator and the woreda office WASH experts recently visited the implementation of the water safety plan (WSP) in two kebeles (Shishir and Sida) of the woreda. The objective of the visit was to share best practices and promote ownership for the sustainability of the WSP implementation and scaling up it to other kebeles. The WSP implementation in these kebeles was made possible with the support of IRC WASH through the Agenda for Change in Ethiopia. South Ari Woreda has been piloting the water safety plan in four selected kebeles since July 2022.
During a visit led by the woreda water office, a team observed different WASH activities and improvements in their implementation, which were attributed to the water safety plan. The Kebele WSP team presented a progress report in their office and facilitated the visit to water schemes and sanitation facilities. According to the report, the implementation of the water safety plan boosted integration among WASH sector woreda and kebele offices, mobilised the community to participate in different WASH activities, improved the documentation, planning, and reporting process, and progressed the water supply and sanitation status of their kebele.
The WSP team encountered different challenges along all these processes, including the conflict of interest from some administrative bodies of the kebele structure, high turnover rate, weak filing system, delayed feedback mechanism, lack of capacity building support for WASHCOs, and a shortage of woreda budget. Despite these obstacles, the WSP team continues to work towards improving access to clean water and sanitation facilities in their community.
The South Ari Woreda Administrator Meleyolebash Mezgebe said that he learned much from the visit and that the kebeles should continue to raise awareness among the community, facilitate and support community contribution, and collaborate with the woreda water office for additional support. The woreda administrator added the need to establish a cluster-based committee at the woreda level to support all developmental activities by taking the learnings from WSP implementation and approaches.
The South Ari Woreda Water, Mines and Energy Office head Yohannis Melti said that when investments are on mindset, it can result in sustainable service. He also said, "Nowadays, in these pilot kebeles, requests for water scheme maintenance and new infrastructure construction have decreased, and most service providers are now managing their water facilities independently. Likewise, WASH stakeholders' collaboration has improved, and the water safety plan provides valuable guidance for the woreda. Mr. Yohanis also noted that pilot kebeles have successfully maintained and rehabilitated their water schemes within the one-year implementation period, leading to an increase in water demand.
The woreda WASH sector heads and WASH experts agreed to develop a proposal for the sustainability of WSP implementation at the four pilot kebeles and the need to scale up to other kebeles. They also agreed to further discuss these points at the upcoming woreda learning alliance meeting.