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Published on: 15/12/2023


With unwavering support from IRC WASH, South Ari Woreda developed a comprehensive WASH master plan. This roadmap serves as a guiding blueprint, illuminating the path towards a future where access to clean water and sanitation is a reality for every individual and institution. This plan is like a roadmap, showing the way to a future where everyone can have clean water and proper sanitation services. To effectively implement the plan, the woreda, with support from IRC WASH, came up with a strategy to mobilize the resources needed.

However, achieving such a big goal requires continual monitoring and evaluation. Recently, IRC WASH conducted an assessment to evaluate the progress and identify challenges that are holding back the progress. The findings were promising; encouraging progress has been made. However, the assessment also highlighted certain challenges that need to be addressed to ensure continuation of this transformative initiative.

Thanks to the master plan, the woreda has enhanced its budget allocation for WASH services improvements. Since the launching of the plan, political cadres in the woreda have increased  understanding of the financial gaps in WASH services, leading to an improved annual budget allocation—though it remains insufficient.

The woreda health office has shifted its focus from merely achieving an open defecation-free status to ensuring at least basic sanitation services. The master plan has become instrumental in the woreda's annual planning, budget allocation and reporting processes.

The Woreda water office has made commendable progress, achieving 46% basic water supply coverage in 2023, surpassing the baseline of 22% in 2019 and benefiting 43,626 users. This success is attributed to collaborative efforts involving community, NGOs and government, focusing on the construction, rehabilitation, and expansion of water schemes. Water scheme functionality has improved by 17%.

Conversely, the improved sanitation coverage has decreased to 27% from 36% in 2019, with only 12% of households having access to basic sanitation services, this is an area that demands significant improvement. However, progress in school WASH surpasses community WASH, with basic school water supply coverage reaching 43% and basic sanitation 28%. Unfortunately, WASH facilities in healthcare facilities have remained stagnant since the baseline.

Despite budget allocation efforts, limited cash flow is hindering the implementation. High staff turnover across WASH offices disrupts consistent follow-up. Weak data management, including undocumented community contributions and a lack of master plan access for kebele administration, created a gap to clearly quantify the amount of fund that flows to the sector.  They were unable to raise the necessary funds because they had not properly implemented the resource mobilization strategy. These combined factors limit the successful implementation of the WASH Master Plan.

To enhance community participation in the WASH Master Plan, it is imperative to cascade plans to each kebele administration. Kebele administrators and WASH teams should undergo awareness creation, with the appointment of a dedicated "WASH ambassador" to champion promotion at all levels. Additionally, scaling up best practices in community resource mobilization and actively engaging the private sector are crucial steps going forward. The preparation of shelf studies and design documents will expedite implementation when resources are available, while recruitment and training are essential to address understaffing and the skill gap. The market-based sanitation approach should be revisited to align with national guidelines. Lastly, fostering knowledge exchange between South Ari Woreda and the South Omo Zone WASH sector will facilitate the successful scaling up of the WASH Master Plan implementation, ensuring a collective and sustainable effort towards SDG.

This story is written based on input from Muhammed Ebrahim and Gezahegn Lemecha.


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