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Vitens Evides International (VEI) in Ethiopia

Published on: 01/05/2013

VEI has helped provide reliable tap water to more than thirty five million customers in 98 cities and towns across twenty countries. Ethiopia is one of the focus countries. We interviewed Lieke Nijk to learn about VEI's work in the country.

VEI at a glance

VEI is a company powered by the two largest water companies in the Netherlands, Vitens and Evides. Together the companies serve some 6.5 million customers or 40% of the Dutch population. VEI extends Dutch expertise to developing and transition countries, supporting local water companies to improve their operations and extend services to the poor. 

Key activities: VEI currently has three water supply programs in Ethiopia:Source to Tap and Back’ in Addis Ababa; ’Sustainable Water Services’ in Harar; and ‘Sustainable Infrastructure Development and Water resources protection’ in Adama & Bishoftu. The central aim of each project is to transform the local water company into a healthy long-term business providing reliable services. Sanitation and integrated water resource management are addressed through additional project activities. Project funding comes from the European Union and the Dutch government as well as the Water for Life fund from Dutch water consumers.

Where VEI works: VEI is helping to improve operations in four growing cities: Addis Ababa, Harar, Adama and Bishoftu.

Find out more: Follow VEIs Ethiopian projects at http://vei.akvoapp.org/en/?locations__country=12&continent=af or see www.vitensevidesinternational.com/ 

Contact VEI: Lieke Nijk is the interim project manager, contact her on Lieke.Nijk@vitens.nl. The new resident project manager for Addis is Daniel Truneh, for Adama and Bishoftu it is Wonde Hirpa (wonde.hirpa@vitens.nl) and for Harar it is Edo Sipma (edo.sipma@vitens.nl). Adriaan Mels is the regional director of Africa. 

Interview with Lieke Nijk

As well as the generic issues faced by every water company, reducing losses, ensuring collection of revenue, developing and motivating staff for serve customers and others, there are local and unique problems to be solved. For example, there are concerns about increasing pollution near Addis Ababa with the Turkish-Ethio Industrial Zone under construction directly upstream from the capital’s primary source for drinking water supply at Legadadi; there is a search for lower fluoride water supply sources near Adama and a need to manage potential conflicts with irrigation users; and high levels of calcium in water supplied to Harar needs specialist treatment processes. To these kind of challenges, VEI develop tailored projects to find sustainable solutions.

VEI uses its expertise and knowledge to provide practical on-the-job learning, capacity building and exchange visits – all aiming to improve water company operations. VEI’s Resident Project Manager works alongside the local manager for the duration of the project and short term staff with specialist expertise  are deployed on specific assignments when necessary. A recent exchange visit involved staff from the Harar Water Supply and Sewerage Authority to visit a successful project by VEI in Kenya to learn lessons on non-revenue water reduction and benchmarking by water companies.

VEI integrates a pro-poor component in its projects seeking to specifically improve water services for the urban poor. Solutions may include public taps or water kiosks run by women entrepreneurs for example. The projects also include awareness raising on water use. When less water is wasted, more is available for distribution. Sanitation is also integrated wherever possible. Through Water for Life, a number of public toilet facilities and pit latrines at schools were constructed in Ambo for example.

Each project is a collaborative partnership. In Addis Ababa, for example, VEI works with the Addis Ababa Water Supply and Sewerage Authority; Adama Town Water Supply and Sewerage Service Enterprise; Oromia Water, Mineral and Energy Bureau and the Ethiopian Public Health Institute; as well as MetaMeta, Waterschap Zuiderzeeland, Waterschap Vallei en Veluwe, and the National Institute for Public Health and Environment. Managing these partnerships is always a challenge and a major focus of VEI activities.