Addis Ababa
123.4 million

Most people depend on farming to feed their families and make a living, relying on the twice-yearly rains for their crops to thrive. But these rains are becoming ever more unpredictable, threatening the health and livelihoods of millions.

Ethiopia’s ambitious government has made impressive progress in getting more people the toilets and taps they need. The number of people living without clean water, and going to the toilet in the open, has halved.

But the need for action is still pressing. Babies are delivered in health centres with no clean water. Children are frequently ill, missing vital school lessons. Women and girls lose hours every day walking to fetch water. And right now, climate change is threatening the water supplies of the country's most vulnerable communities.

people don't have access to clean water.

That's half the population.

people don't have a decent toilet.

Less than 10% of people in Ethiopia have a decent toilet.

children under five die each year from diarrhoea.

Caused by dirty water and poor toilets.

Our work in Ethiopia

We’ve been bringing clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene to communities, schools and health centres across Ethiopia since 1991.

We’re working to increase communities’ resilience to climate change, empower those in vulnerable situations who are often excluded, and strengthen the systems that deliver essential services – so the impact of our work is sustained long into the future.

And by working in partnership with others and influencing government policy, we make sure our knowledge is shared to reach even more people.

Reaching those who are often overlooked

We're determined to support change in even the most remote parts of Ethiopia.

Image: WaterAid/ Joey Lawrence

Many of the communities we work with are so remote they can’t be reached by vehicle. Transporting materials, laying pipes and building pumps is a joint affair, with everyone – from village elders to young mothers – playing their part in bringing about change.

Women and children in Derekwa used to spend hours each day collecting dirty water from a muddy spring – making them late for school, or keeping them from work. As the spring started to dry up, they had to dig deeper and deeper into the soil to reach water.

As part of the Deliver Life project, we worked with the community to install three water points in the village, and one in the primary school. Water is treated, then stored in an underground tank before being piped to taps via solar-powered pumps – so now, there’s always enough to go around.

We also helped establish voluntary committees to maintain the new facilities, so residents will continue to feel their impact, long after we leave.

Working in partnership

Thanks to a pioneering partnership with Yorkshire Water, who share their expertise and deliver specialist training, utilities managers like Leyew have the skills they need to deliver local water and sanitation services sustainably and effectively.

Leyew Animut sitting on the  tap stand with women filling up their jerry cans with water from the community tap that is connected to an underground pipe system in Finote Selam, Ethiopia. February 2020
Image: WaterAid/ Joey Lawrence

Through the SusWASH (Sustainable Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) programme, we’re strengthening the systems behind essential services – meaning the impact of our work will last long into the future.

Funded by the H&M Foundation, the programme also aims to make services more inclusive, ensuring all groups in society can benefit from access to improved water, hygiene and sanitation.

SusWASH in Ethiopia

We're supporting the government to deliver their One WASH National Plan in the Oromia region, by sharing our knowledge in coordination, planning, monitoring and budgeting with officials. We're also working with civil society organisations, helping people create community platforms and make their voices heard.

By supporting community-led initiatives, like interactive theatre performances, we're reaching thousands of people with essential hygiene messages, including the importance of handwashing and use of toilets.

An member of the watching crowd taking part in a handwashing demonstration during a hygiene behavioural change campaign which combines theatre, music and demonstrations in the marketplace of  Jara, Bale, Oromia region, Ethiopia, March 2019.
Interactive theatre performances both entertain and educate local audiences, demonstrating positive hygiene behaviours and engaging thousands of people.
Image: WaterAid/ Genaye Eshetu

Getting comfortable with periods

Across Ethiopia, we’re helping people talk about periods openly.

We’re working in schools to challenge stigmas, and making sure girls can manage their periods safely and with dignity – meaning they no longer have to miss days of invaluable education each month.

Ikram, 14, is an eighth grade student and member of the Hygiene and Sanitation Club at Arabo Primary School. Arabo, Kalu, South Welo, Amhara, Ethiopia. November 2017.
The trainings we get are very empowering... There are girls whose parents cannot afford to buy them sanitary pads. We show them how they can make one by using clean fabric they can access at home.
Ikram, 14, a member of her school’s Hygiene and Sanitation Club

Responding to COVID-19

We’ve joined forces with other charities, the UN, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as part of the Hygiene and Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC): a taskforce dedicated to reducing the spread of COVID-19 through improved hygiene, funded by UK Aid and supported by Unilever.

HBCC in Ethiopia

With so many people in Ethiopia lacking the clean water they need to practise good hygiene, COVID-19 is a real threat. As part of our work with the HBCC, we've distributed soap and built emergency water tanks in healthcare facilities and COVID-19 isolation centres, and worked with the government to roll out a national hygiene and sanitation behaviour change campaign.

The latest on our work in Ethiopia

Browse articles, insight and expert opinion from the WASH Matters blog.

Ready to make a difference? Just £2 a month can help us reach more climate-vulnerable communities in Ethiopia.

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Delve deeper into our work

Explore the latest publications, research and policy papers from our work in Ethiopia.

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