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WASH systems context analysis conducted in two Ethiopian districts

Published on: 02/06/2021

IRC signed a consultancy agreement with Aguaconsult to conduct a WASH systems context analysis of Mena and Seka Chokorsa districts in Jimma Zone of Oromia Region in Ethiopia.

The context analysis is in support of Welthungerhilfe’s (WHH) programme in the two districts. WHH has been operating in the two districts since 2015, mainly focusing on WASH infrastructure development. The programme is considering developing a WASH systems strengthening approach as part of WHH’s ongoing Sustainable Services Initiative (SSI).

Accordingly, IRC WASH conducted a context analysis workshop in Jimma town from May 17 to 20, 2021. The workshop was organised for each district separately. The Mena District context analysis was conducted on the 17th and 18th and the Seka Chokorsa one on the 19th and 20th. A separate consultative meeting was conducted with the zonal water, health, and education departments on 21 May. The zone WASH sector departments are responsible for coordinating WASH activities in the districts under the zone.

The context analysis used the SSI WASH systems building block indicators. The SSI has the following nine building blocks:

  1. Institutional arrangements and coordination
  2. Service delivery infrastructure
  3. Regulation and accountability
  4. Inclusive planning
  5. Finance
  6. Monitoring
  7. Water resources and environment
  8. Learning and adaption
  9. Demand, behaviour, and political will

Each building block has a set of generic indicators to ascertain the WASH situation in the districts at the service authority (the district/woreda in Ethiopia) and service provider (WASHCOs) levels. Prior to the workshop, the generic checklist was contextualised to the Ethiopian context.

All WASH actors in the district were invited to the workshop, but only government WASH sector actors attended such as the district water, health, and education offices in the case of Mena and the woreda administration and Seka Chokorsa town utility, in addition to the WASH sector offices, in the case of Seka Chokorsa district. In addition, the Zone Water Department participated in the workshops. The participants invited from each district WASH sector office were office heads, monitoring and evaluation experts, the WASH focal person in the case of health and education, and water supply scheme administration heads in the case of the water office.

The workshops were opened with a brief introduction on the objective of the workshop by WHH’s Jimma Zone Project Coordinator followed by IRC WASH’s brief presentation on the systems approach and its application in Ethiopia. IRC WASH’s presentation was intended to create a better understanding of the approach and was followed by a Q&A session and group discussion to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each indicator under all nine building blocks.

Participants around a table during group discussion

Participants of Seka Chokorsa district during a group discussion

For the group discussion, WASH sector office heads joined group one and assessed the indicators under the institutional arrangements and coordination, water resources and environment, and learning and adaptation building blocks. Monitoring and evaluation experts joined group two and worked on indicators under the inclusive planning, finance, and monitoring building blocks. The water supply scheme administration heads and WASH focal persons joined group three and worked on indicators under the service delivery infrastructure, regulation and accountability, and demand, behaviour and political will building blocks. There were three zonal water department participants who each joined one group. The building blocks were classified in such a way that each team had an equal number of indicators with each group working on 24 out of a total of 72 indicators across the nine building blocks.

After finishing the district level workshop, a separate consultation meeting was conducted with zone WASH sector departments to get clarification on outstanding issues which were not sufficiently addressed by workshop participants. The consultation was conducted with health and education WASH focal persons and the water department head.  The institutional mandates for capital maintenance, presence of legislation framework to regulate service providers, guidelines for tariff calculation, availability of a consolidated plan for achieving and sustaining services, are some of the points of discussion with zone stakeholders.

The context analysis workshops in the two districts and the zone level consultation meetings were completed by establishing a WASH system baseline for the two districts. The analysis mainly focuses on the situation at the districts’ service provider and service authority levels. In addition, relevant information concerning the status of the building blocks at the national and regional levels was assessed through separate virtual meetings with key sector actors, especially regarding how the strengths and weaknesses at these levels impact the situation at the district level.

The analysis results generally indicated poor performance across the two woredas regarding the assessed building blocks. More specifically, the performance of the regulation and accountability, monitoring, water resources and environment, learning and adaption, and demand, behaviour and political will building blocks was poor, highlighting these as key priority areas that need strengthening. The performance of the institutional arrangements and coordination, resilient service delivery models and infrastructure, inclusive planning, and finance building blocks was moderate with prevalent key weaknesses. These challenges are common across Oromia Region and Ethiopia and are symptoms of broader issues at the national, regional, and service provider levels.