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WASTE in Ethiopia

Published on: 30/04/2013

WASTE is a Netherlands-based NGO (with it’s office in Gouda). With a focus on towns and cities in low-income countries, they see waste as an opportunity for development. This entry is based upon an interview with Niels Lenderink. 

WASTE at a glance

WASTE is a Dutch NGO with a focus on urban sanitation that works in Ethiopia with local partner organisations, including municipalities, businesses, business consultants, municipalities. the partnering business consultant in ethiopia is Fair and Sustainable.

Key activities: urban sanitation with a focus (but not exclusively) on business support and the identification of locally available finance.

Where WASTE work: Arba Minch, Mojo, Arsi Negele, Ziway, Dire Dawa, and Adama.

Find out more: WASTE regularly update their website with Ethiopia-related content at

Contact WASTE: Stan Maessen ( or Niels Lenderink ( are good places to start. Niels is the focal person for Dutch organisations working in the Ethiopian WASH Alliance. 

Interview with Niels Lenderink

 Niels manages WASTE project activities in Bénin and Ethiopia. WASTE focus on market-led solutions to the problem of poor sanitation, working with (informal and formal) entrepreneurs, business consultants, municipalities, NGOs, and financing through micro-finance institutions. All to make it easier and more popular for households to invest in a toilet and the related infrastructure. The programme activities of WASTE and its partners in Ethiopia are now being financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SPA programme in Arba minch and Mojo, WASH programme in Dire Dawa, Arsi Negele and Ziway) and the Nederlandse Waterschapsbank N.V. (ROSSA programme in Adama).

The experiences in Arba Minch have been among the most successful so far (under a project called ROSA). Here, WASTE has been working with OMO Micro Finance to make micro-loans available to households (to invest in toilets) and businesses (to invest in e.g. equipment), all backed up by a guarantee fund. There are also specific subsidies designed for poorer households. The process has been careful and step-wise, building up capacity in the public and private sectors at the same time as building up demand from households. So far between 500-1000 households have used the programme to build their toilet.

WASTE is partnering with Fair and Sustainable to bring in business development skills to the projects. They help to identify entrepreneurs who can take on and build up a part of the sanitation service and value chains. Another part of the approach is the signing of contracts with municipalities, so that the vital 'software' tasks needed to build up the programme are done and embedded in the regular activities of the municipalities. These activities are critical and the public sector needs to undertake a range of enabling functions if households are to invest in hardware. Government however might prefer to invest in hardware itself, wanting to put its money into infrastructure, but this is in the end not scaleable, and therefore not sustainable. In Arba Minch the new approach seems to be successful.

Now the effort is to further upscale these experiences to five other cities, including Dire Dawa, Adama, Mojo, Arsi Ngele and Ziway.

WASTE is also concerned about engaging more regional and federal level government. Unless embedded in new policies, these types of innovations may not go beyond successful pilots and will remain 'islands of success'. Or a waste.