Skip to main content

A local systems analysis for rural water services delivery in South Ari and Mile, Ethiopia

Understanding local systems to find solutions to poor sustainability

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership (SWS) seeks new ways to improve the sustainability of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services by drawing upon a systems approach and promoting innovation to strengthen service delivery systems through improved local partnerships. In Ethiopia and Uganda, SWS is focusing on rural water services and urban sanitation services. This baseline assessment report considers rural water services in Ethiopia.
The report provides a synthesis of various studies and systems analyses undertaken in two rural woredas (districts) in Ethiopia: South Ari, in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR), and Mile, in the Afar Region. All rural water assessments were undertaken with the involvement of representatives from local government, and most were done with the USAID Lowland WASH Activity, which is implementing a broad WASH intervention in both woredas. The baseline studies undertaken include an asset inventory, service delivery assessment, life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA), sustainability check, organisational network analysis (ONA), and factor mapping.

Following a structure based on nine building blocks for the delivery of WASH services (institutions, legislation, finance, planning, infrastructure management and development, monitoring, regulation, learning and adaptation, and water resources management) (See Figure 1), this report summarises the strengths of the decentralised local systems that deliver services in these locations, describing key actors, factors, and interactions. It then identifies recommendations for systems-strengthening activities to improve service delivery. Related reports provide full details of the results from each of the baseline assessments.

Different local contexts to test systems approaches

South Ari and Mile have very different contexts. The hills of South Ari receive substantial year-round rainfall (around 1,300 millimeters [mm] per year) with peaks in April and October. The average temperature is 21⁰C. Shallow groundwater can be tapped across much of the district. Domestic water supplies come from hand-dug wells and shallow-drilled boreholes or springs that emerge along the hillsides. A total of 245 schemes serve a population of almost 280,000, but actual access to these improved sources is low.

Mile is a flat and arid landscape in the lower Awash River basin, with very low average annual rainfall (about 200 mm) and high temperatures that average 28⁰C. Although the river passes through Mile on its way from the highlands around Addis Ababa before drying out in the salt flats toward Djibouti, most of the woreda has high water scarcity, even with the Mile dam. Many members of the population (106,000) are pastoralists, moving with their livestock in search of pasture and water. There are only 29 water supply schemes: shallow boreholes with hand pumps, shallow and deep wells with motorized pumps and typically small distribution systems, and a few stand posts for people and livestock.

Poor services and high risks to sustainability

Despite the different contexts, in both districts, rural and small town water services are provided through a mix of community- and utility-management models. In both districts, access to services, and the quality of service provided, is low.

In South Ari, official estimates and analysis based on asset inventory data show that coverage (i.e., access to improved water schemes) is 26 percent. However, less than half (48 percent) of the users of public water services spend 30 minutes or less round-trip to fetch water, and only 13 percent have access to basic water services, according to WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) definitions of basic water services. This includes the 0.6 percent of the population with piped water supply on premises. The proportion of the population with access to water services that meet national norms, as set out in the country's first and second Growth and Transformation Plans (GTP-1 and GTP-2), is also very low when key parameters are measured. Functionality and reliability of community-managed schemes are far from optimal, with scheme functionality rates of 69 percent and reliability rates (providing non-seasonal water services at least 85 percent of the time during the last month) of only 56 percent. Functionality and reliability rates of public taps connected to springs and deep wells are even lower, 41 percent and 23 percent, respectively. Water quality is also an issue: only 40 percent of community-managed schemes provide water of adequate quality (E. coli < 10 mpn/100ml) (Adank et al., 2018). The level of water services provided by the utility-managed scheme in Gazer is also very low.

In Mile, official water supply coverage was 35 percent in 2017. However, based on updated asset inventory data and allowing for different calculation assumptions, IRC estimates coverage to be somewhere between 15 and 21 percent. More than half (55 percent) of users of public water points reported spending 30 minutes or less round-trip to fetch water, and 13 percent had access to basic services, according to JMP definitions. This includes the estimated 6 percent of the population with access to piped water supply on premises. However, such supplies are not always available when needed, and the proportion of people with access to safely-managed water is effectively 0 percent. The proportion of the population with access to water services that meet GTP-1 and GTP-2 national norms is also very low. The functionality and reliability of community-managed schemes are considerably higher in Mile than in South Ari, although there are fewer schemes. Nevertheless, 23 percent of schemes were non-functional at the time of the asset inventory survey.

Weak systems for WASH service delivery

IRC and partners have identified nine building blocks as critical components of a strong system for delivering WASH services. In South Ari and Mile, the analyses revealed gaps and weaknesses in all the building blocks but particularly financing, infrastructure development and management, monitoring, regulation, learning and adaptation, and water resources management. In each woreda, official structures and capacities for institutions, legislation, and planning are in place to some degree—providing a basis for systems strengthening—but capacities are low.

Finance is a major constraint in both woredas, with huge financing gaps for investment in new services to reach the unserved, as well as for maintenance, rehabilitation, and direct and indirect support to service providers.

A critical problem that affects sustainability is that local and national priorities are largely geared toward extending services to the remaining unserved, rather than raising or even maintaining service levels. Investments in infrastructure are not well managed. In both South Ari and Mile, attention to rehabilitation has recently increased, but the baseline assessment found almost no preventive or minor maintenance—an important cause of high failure rates for both simple hand pumps and more complex schemes involving generators, motors, and submersible pumps.

Recommendations for interventions to strengthen systems

Innovations to address gaps in the system and find ways to improve sustainability are being sought through a stakeholder-driven approach. Learning alliances—a facilitated network of local actors interested in WASH and sustainability—are undertaking experiments and pilot programs.

The overall objective identified by SWS and learning alliance partners, including representatives from local government and the USAID Lowland WASH Activity, is to shift the focus toward operations and maintenance (O&M). This is expected to lead to higher functionality and service levels while helping the woredas use strong asset performance to justify increased financial investments (e.g., from the woreda cabinet) in new and extended water supplies.

Opportunities to develop capacities in both South Ari and Mile and pilots to improve mechanisms for O&M were identified through the baseline assessments and follow-up meetings with representatives from local government and other learning alliance partners. In each woreda, an integrated pilot is proposed, with a focus on asset management, including aspects related to institutional arrangements for maintenance (e.g., strengthening federations that connect WASHCos or strengthening micro and small enterprises that perform O&M), financing for maintenance, and the use of monitoring data to guide asset management.

Coordination is another critical weakness. SWS has already supported local stakeholders in establishing learning alliance platforms that seek to improve coordination, collaboration, and learning. This was an integral component of the project's theory of change and design. SWS also conducted an ONA to map and track changes in the network over the life of the project.

Other recommendations for systems-strengthening activities include capacity building, advocacy, and sector influencing activities. Stakeholders identified training in WASHCo management and basic maintenance as a necessary activity. At the same time, financing constraints emerged as a critical issue that cannot easily be solved at woreda or higher levels, but advocacy was identified as an entry point. Various changes will require policy and related actions at regional and national levels, with stakeholder engagement at these levels, to support innovations and progress at local levels.

TitleA local systems analysis for rural water services delivery in South Ari and Mile, Ethiopia
Publication TypeResearch Report
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsAdank, M, Hailegiorgis, B, Butterworth, J
Pagination60 p. : 10 fig., 9 tab.
Date Published09/2019
PublisherUniversity of Colorado Boulder, USAID and IRC Ethiopia
Place PublishedBoulder, CO, USA
Publication LanguageEnglish
Abstract
Understanding local systems to find solutions to poor sustainability

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership (SWS) seeks new ways to improve the sustainability of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services by drawing upon a systems approach and promoting innovation to strengthen service delivery systems through improved local partnerships. In Ethiopia and Uganda, SWS is focusing on rural water services and urban sanitation services. This baseline assessment report considers rural water services in Ethiopia.
The report provides a synthesis of various studies and systems analyses undertaken in two rural woredas (districts) in Ethiopia: South Ari, in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR), and Mile, in the Afar Region. All rural water assessments were undertaken with the involvement of representatives from local government, and most were done with the USAID Lowland WASH Activity, which is implementing a broad WASH intervention in both woredas. The baseline studies undertaken include an asset inventory, service delivery assessment, life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA), sustainability check, organisational network analysis (ONA), and factor mapping.

Following a structure based on nine building blocks for the delivery of WASH services (institutions, legislation, finance, planning, infrastructure management and development, monitoring, regulation, learning and adaptation, and water resources management) (See Figure 1), this report summarises the strengths of the decentralised local systems that deliver services in these locations, describing key actors, factors, and interactions. It then identifies recommendations for systems-strengthening activities to improve service delivery. Related reports provide full details of the results from each of the baseline assessments.

Different local contexts to test systems approaches

South Ari and Mile have very different contexts. The hills of South Ari receive substantial year-round rainfall (around 1,300 millimeters [mm] per year) with peaks in April and October. The average temperature is 21⁰C. Shallow groundwater can be tapped across much of the district. Domestic water supplies come from hand-dug wells and shallow-drilled boreholes or springs that emerge along the hillsides. A total of 245 schemes serve a population of almost 280,000, but actual access to these improved sources is low.

Mile is a flat and arid landscape in the lower Awash River basin, with very low average annual rainfall (about 200 mm) and high temperatures that average 28⁰C. Although the river passes through Mile on its way from the highlands around Addis Ababa before drying out in the salt flats toward Djibouti, most of the woreda has high water scarcity, even with the Mile dam. Many members of the population (106,000) are pastoralists, moving with their livestock in search of pasture and water. There are only 29 water supply schemes: shallow boreholes with hand pumps, shallow and deep wells with motorized pumps and typically small distribution systems, and a few stand posts for people and livestock.

Poor services and high risks to sustainability

Despite the different contexts, in both districts, rural and small town water services are provided through a mix of community- and utility-management models. In both districts, access to services, and the quality of service provided, is low.

In South Ari, official estimates and analysis based on asset inventory data show that coverage (i.e., access to improved water schemes) is 26 percent. However, less than half (48 percent) of the users of public water services spend 30 minutes or less round-trip to fetch water, and only 13 percent have access to basic water services, according to WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) definitions of basic water services. This includes the 0.6 percent of the population with piped water supply on premises. The proportion of the population with access to water services that meet national norms, as set out in the country's first and second Growth and Transformation Plans (GTP-1 and GTP-2), is also very low when key parameters are measured. Functionality and reliability of community-managed schemes are far from optimal, with scheme functionality rates of 69 percent and reliability rates (providing non-seasonal water services at least 85 percent of the time during the last month) of only 56 percent. Functionality and reliability rates of public taps connected to springs and deep wells are even lower, 41 percent and 23 percent, respectively. Water quality is also an issue: only 40 percent of community-managed schemes provide water of adequate quality (E. coli < 10 mpn/100ml) (Adank et al., 2018). The level of water services provided by the utility-managed scheme in Gazer is also very low.

In Mile, official water supply coverage was 35 percent in 2017. However, based on updated asset inventory data and allowing for different calculation assumptions, IRC estimates coverage to be somewhere between 15 and 21 percent. More than half (55 percent) of users of public water points reported spending 30 minutes or less round-trip to fetch water, and 13 percent had access to basic services, according to JMP definitions. This includes the estimated 6 percent of the population with access to piped water supply on premises. However, such supplies are not always available when needed, and the proportion of people with access to safely-managed water is effectively 0 percent. The proportion of the population with access to water services that meet GTP-1 and GTP-2 national norms is also very low. The functionality and reliability of community-managed schemes are considerably higher in Mile than in South Ari, although there are fewer schemes. Nevertheless, 23 percent of schemes were non-functional at the time of the asset inventory survey.

Weak systems for WASH service delivery

IRC and partners have identified nine building blocks as critical components of a strong system for delivering WASH services. In South Ari and Mile, the analyses revealed gaps and weaknesses in all the building blocks but particularly financing, infrastructure development and management, monitoring, regulation, learning and adaptation, and water resources management. In each woreda, official structures and capacities for institutions, legislation, and planning are in place to some degree—providing a basis for systems strengthening—but capacities are low.

Finance is a major constraint in both woredas, with huge financing gaps for investment in new services to reach the unserved, as well as for maintenance, rehabilitation, and direct and indirect support to service providers.

A critical problem that affects sustainability is that local and national priorities are largely geared toward extending services to the remaining unserved, rather than raising or even maintaining service levels. Investments in infrastructure are not well managed. In both South Ari and Mile, attention to rehabilitation has recently increased, but the baseline assessment found almost no preventive or minor maintenance—an important cause of high failure rates for both simple hand pumps and more complex schemes involving generators, motors, and submersible pumps.

Recommendations for interventions to strengthen systems

Innovations to address gaps in the system and find ways to improve sustainability are being sought through a stakeholder-driven approach. Learning alliances—a facilitated network of local actors interested in WASH and sustainability—are undertaking experiments and pilot programs.

The overall objective identified by SWS and learning alliance partners, including representatives from local government and the USAID Lowland WASH Activity, is to shift the focus toward operations and maintenance (O&M). This is expected to lead to higher functionality and service levels while helping the woredas use strong asset performance to justify increased financial investments (e.g., from the woreda cabinet) in new and extended water supplies.

Opportunities to develop capacities in both South Ari and Mile and pilots to improve mechanisms for O&M were identified through the baseline assessments and follow-up meetings with representatives from local government and other learning alliance partners. In each woreda, an integrated pilot is proposed, with a focus on asset management, including aspects related to institutional arrangements for maintenance (e.g., strengthening federations that connect WASHCos or strengthening micro and small enterprises that perform O&M), financing for maintenance, and the use of monitoring data to guide asset management.

Coordination is another critical weakness. SWS has already supported local stakeholders in establishing learning alliance platforms that seek to improve coordination, collaboration, and learning. This was an integral component of the project's theory of change and design. SWS also conducted an ONA to map and track changes in the network over the life of the project.

Other recommendations for systems-strengthening activities include capacity building, advocacy, and sector influencing activities. Stakeholders identified training in WASHCo management and basic maintenance as a necessary activity. At the same time, financing constraints emerged as a critical issue that cannot easily be solved at woreda or higher levels, but advocacy was identified as an entry point. Various changes will require policy and related actions at regional and national levels, with stakeholder engagement at these levels, to support innovations and progress at local levels.

Notes

Includes 9 ref.

URLhttps://www.globalwaters.org/resources/assets/sws/local-systems-analysis-rural-water-services-delivery-ethiopia
Citation Key86410

Disclaimer

The copyright of the documents on this site remains with the original publishers. The documents may therefore not be redistributed commercially without the permission of the original publishers.