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All the water in Ethiopia Our preparations for Ethiopia's first digital National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Inventory

Ethiopia wants to improve its water infrastructure. Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals is to establish universal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 - and the Government of Ethiopia is taking that very seriously. Ensuring water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) services for all Ethiopians is one of its most important national goals. But how do they do that?

The Government of Ethiopia established the One WaSH National Program (OWNP) in 2013, to build on its existing plan for universal access to water supply, sanitation and hygiene. And to make OWNP as strong and efficient as possible, Coffey Europe has been working with the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity since 2015 to establish a fully operational monitoring and evaluation Management Information System for OWNP.

One of the most crucial parts of this monitoring and evaluation system is the National WaSH Inventory (NWI2), an ambitious survey of all of the community water infrastructure in Ethiopia. There was a previous WaSH inventory - carried out in 2011 - but what makes NWI2 different is how it's being carried out: for the first time it will be fully digital.

And not only will it be fully digital, it will be on a scale unprecedented in the region: 3,924 tablets, programmed and equipped with Coffey's Cosmos data collection platform, will be issued to specially trained enumerators from across Ethiopia.

Through this software and training, they will be able to collect specific, verified, consistent and accurate information on water facilities throughout the country.

The support for the programme comes from the very top of the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy. In a recent conversation with Coffey, His Excellency Dr. Eng. Seleshi Bekele, who leads the Ministry, spoke of the importance of having specific and consistent data to inform their work.

"With real time information we can make our strategy, plans and programmes very well understood and not misinformed or falsely reported."

Putting it into practice

Piloting of the roll-out of the training and handsets started in the Autumn of 2018, providing valuable lessons and information that will improve the delivery of the final roll-out in 2019.

During a two-day exercise in November, 40 enumerators from the Diredawa administration and Harari region gathered in Diredawa - with national and regional staff from the Ministry and a team from Coffey - to undertake a day of training on Cosmos and then a day of practical field exercises.

What did we learn?

Community awareness

One of the key lessons from the pilot was to make sure that the communities that are being surveyed are aware in advance of the inventory.

Ethiopia has an effective network of WaSH Committees, and it is the leaders of these committees who will be able to provide the enumerators with much of the information they need. They will need time to prepare though.

If the chairpeople of the WaSHCos are notified in good time of the enumerators' visits, it will allow them to prepare and provide the enumerators with the fullest and most accurate information possible.

Logistics & arrangements

The pilot provided a crucial insight into the logistical details of this ambitious project - the sort of details that often only come to light when preparations are put into practice.

The pilot served its purpose as a test run perfectly and the NWI2 team were able to learn from the enumerators and participants, about the practicalities that they were facing, including travel arrangements, security conditions and expenses.

Next steps

The two days of the piloting - the training session and the field exercises - ended with a comprehensive reflection session. During this session, Coffey's team opened the floor for any and all feedback that the enumerators and the Ministry staff had. It was highly productive session, that provoked discussions and questions that all focused on the singular aim of making NWI2 as efficient and effective as possible.

The next step is to take all this information - all the lessons, details and constructive comments - back to the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy. There, the Coffey team will work with Ministry staff to reflect these lessons in improvements to the full roll-out plan for NWI2.

Coffey Europe is working on the One WaSH programme with the Government of Ethiopia, with funding from the UK Government, the African Development Bank, UNICEF and the World Bank.

Created By
Mary Vancura
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