From July 2014 to December 2020, IRC supported UNICEF and partners in monitoring and assessing the impacts of an ambitious programme in Ethiopia.
The ONEWASH PLUS programme, with funding from the UK Department for International Development (later the British Embassy), aimed to fill potential gaps in the One WASH National Programme and specifically to address the enormous challenge of improving WASH service provision in small towns in Ethiopia. Small towns were, and still are a concern and a strategic focus for a number of reasons: there is rapid population growth in these settlements, these centres are vital markets and homes for small-scale business, there have been limited efforts to date to improve WASH services in small towns as compared to rural areas or major cities, there are lower institutional capacities in small town municipalities and town water utilities, and there is potential for serious disease outbreaks and negative health impacts.
The ONEWASH PLUS programme addressed critical gaps related to governance, private sector engagement, climate risks, equity, enabling environment for integrated WASH services delivery and human resources capacity. It introduced and tested innovations in integrated WASH service delivery in small towns and surrounding 'satellite' villages including the construction of new infrastructure and development of new management and other institutional arrangements. On the basis of new evidence, the programme influenced policy and support the development of capacities at a national scale through the One WASH National Programme (OWNP). The programme includes eight intervention towns in four regions: Amhara, Tigray, Oromia and Somali regions.
Key implementing partners in the ONEWASH PLUS programme were Salomon Consultants from Mozambique for infrastructure ('hardware') studies, designs and supervision, World Vision Ethiopia and the Open University from the UK for 'software' studies, interventions and capacity building, WSUP for work on urban sanitation strategy development, and IRC for independent monitoring and knowledge management activities. Private sector contractors were involved to build new infrastructure.
Key beneficiary institutions of the programme included Town Water Utilities, WASH committees in surrounding peri-urban areas, health, education and other institutions, woredas and local private sector business through both better services and expanded roles in service delivery and related supply chains. Critical partners included the main WASH ministries being Water, Health, Education and Finance, as well as the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction, the Water Resources Development Fund (a revolving fund mechanism which will benefit from cost recovery from Town Water Utilities), four regional governments and woreda governments.
Ultimately the programme intended to improve the health, well-being and productivity of people within the targeted small towns and peri-urban areas and more widely (nationwide) through its influencing of the OWNP and capacity building efforts.