SCRS WaSH Project: Beyond Job Creation
Strengthening Climate Resilient (SCRS) WaSH Technical Assistance Project Task 2 Diagnostic Assessment Validation and Planning Workshop was held in Addis Ababa. Representatives of FCDO, WaterAid Ethiopia, Ministry of Water and Energy, regional water bureaus and Micro and Small-scale enterprises were in attendance.
The workshop discussed the key findings, lessons learned, and recommendations from the diagnostic assessment held in six regions across the country over the previous nine months. Attendees also participated in a plenary session to discuss the work plan and prepare the regional action plan for the next six months.
The Ministry of Water and Energy, WaterAid Ethiopia, and NIRAS International are implementing the Strengthening Climate Resilient (SCRS) WaSH Technical Assistance Project with financing from UKAID. The project aims to organize women and youth organizations as Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) to provide water supply facility maintenance and spare parts supply services, therefore addressing both WaSH and youth unemployment.
Ato Tamiru Gedefa, Water Supply and Sanitation CEO, Ministry of Water & Energy, made the opening remark. In his speech, Ato Tamiru emphasized the efforts of many stakeholders to increase access to WaSH across the country, including the development of the ONE WASH National Program. 'Over the last eight years, the program has accomplished a great deal. Through this and other initiatives, the government is trying to fulfil the SDGs and ensure that everyone has access to WaSH by 2030. Among these is ensuring the sustainability of water utilities through a modern working approach and a seamless spare parts supply chain. With this goal in mind, the ministry has launched the Strengthening Climate Resilient (SCRS) WaSH Technical Assistance Project, which will run from 2021 to 2024 and is being funded by the UK government,' Ato Tamiru said.
One of the project's tasks is to organize unemployed youths in all regions to engage in small and micro enterprises to maintain and provide water facilities in rural and urban areas, therefore reducing youth unemployment and enhancing the clean drinking water supply system. The main reason we gathered today is to review the results of the diagnostic assessment completed in six regions and reach an agreement on the actions that will be carried out next. Hence, I urge regional water bureaus, job creation and talent development offices, and other stakeholders to actively participate in order to guarantee the project's future goals are met,' he added.
During his welcoming address, Ato Haimanot Belete, Water Scheme Administration Head, MoWE, gave a highlight on the project and discussed the Diagnostic Assessment conducted in six regions of the nation. According to him, studies suggest that more than 17% of water utilities in the country are inoperable for a variety of reasons, including a shortage of spare parts, financing, and maintenance issues.
'The sustainability of water supply schemes will play a significant part in tackling WaSH issues and alleviating unemployment. We must also guarantee that these businesses are inclusive, with at least 50% of members being women or people with disabilities. WaterAid Ethiopia and NIRAS International conducted this diagnostic assessment in six regions. The assessment was carried out to identify current problems and gaps, the responsibilities of stakeholders and partners, and to map best practices and learnings. The findings of this assessment will be critical in developing a strategy to maintain the sustainability of water supply schemes long after the project is completed,' said Ato Haimanot.
Haile Dinku, WaterAid Ethiopia WaSH Sector Strengthening Advisor and SCRS WaSH TAP Task 2 Lead, presented project plans that are expected to be completed during the project's four-year implementation timeframe. Among these are:
- Access to clean water, improved sanitation services, and proper hygiene habits will be provided to 1.2 million people.
- 900 inclusive (women, girls, and disabled-friendly) WASH facilities for schools and health facilities (health centres/posts) will be built or renovated.
- There will be 98,000 additional residential sanitation facilities developed.
'The project is in its third phase, and implementation will begin soon for a two-year period. We intend to develop service maintenance and spare part supply chain systems while emphasizing the role of women and youth in project implementation zones to improve water supply schemes' sustainability. The primary findings of this assessment will assist us in developing an action plan that will have an impact on the ground,' added Haile.
Ato Sirak Wondimu WaSH and SME Senior Expert presented the key findings of the assessment. It was observed that there is an increasing rate of non-functionality of rural water supply schemes and infrastructures, as well as a shortage of maintenance and spare part supply budget, while community contribution and tariff collection remain income streams to support their operation and maintenance. Furthermore, as inflation reaches an all-time high, there is a lack of integration of MSE business models with market supply and demand. The review identified the following major operational risks:
- Market competition from other MSEs
- Market competition from district technicians
- Lack of credit access to MSEs
- Lack of technical and entrepreneurial skills
- Lack of funds to purchase spare parts materials.
The validation workshop will address these operational risks, resulting in cross-cutting solutions in the next action plan. The plan's execution will entail the creation of regional MSE key stakeholders' platforms and MSE in six target regions, as well as technical capacity-building support.