Ethiopia Herald - Accelerating access to safe water through affordable financing

By Gemechu Kedir

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and in the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which call for urgent response and action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. The goals recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve oceans and forests.

As part of this effort, the Ethiopian government has been working to achieve United Nation goals through establishing stakes on hygiene and environment health, devising proper healthy policy since 1960. 

As Ethiopia’s Sustainable Development Goal stated, the development objectives of water and sanitation sector comprise: ‘Ensuring a sustained supply of potable water and sustainable sewerage disposal systems’, ‘supplying water for use in industries and large irrigated agricultural development works’, ‘participatory watershed development as well as conservation to ensure sustained use of water resources.’ So ensuring provision of clean water is the top priority goal of the country.

However, it does not mean that all the paths are smooth. Climate change, erratic rainfall with low surface water shortage capacity, lack of sufficient water resources and an ever increase population are challenging it. What is more, depletion of ground water, lack of clarity and responsibility among authorities and externalizing problems are becoming serious challenges to the endeavors.

The experiences of several countries show that utilization of unsafe water and poor sanitation practices have been aggravating diseases that could have been easily treated. Needless to say that prevalence of diseases has an adverse impact on societies’ health which in turn affects the overall activities of country.

To get to the bottom of this, the government has been working tirelessly with national and international organization to overcome confronting problems. To support this effort, hence, a three day consultative workshop aimed to create awareness, ownership and collaboration among the government, financial institutions and media was organized by Water.org, nongovernmental organization and WAFA Marketing and Promotion Plc, in Bishoftu Town under the theme ‘Accelerating access to safe water and sanitation through affordable financing.’

Water.org Country Director Salfiso Kitabo said on the occasion that water and sanitation need is one of the major challenges of our time. And the country is one of the many countries whose people lack access to clean water and improved sanitation services.

For the last ten or more years, Water.org, has been seeking to break down financial barriers that prevent families from accessing to clear water and improved latrines through arranging for loans. As to him, in collaboration with different Micro Financial Institutions (MFIs), Vision Fund Micro Finance Institute (VFMFI), Specialized Financial Promotion Institution (SFPI) and Metemamen Microfinance Institute (MMFI) the Organization has accomplished effective works in areas of water and sanitation.

The experience of Water.org in Ethiopia has witnessed that access to loan has improved water and sanitation coverage; reduced the long queue, which is common in the rural part of the country, to get clean water and improve household water treatment. Through the technical supports they got from it, target communities are able to improve the life style through accessing safe water and sanitation facilities.

Ethiopia has a vision of achieving 100 percent of basic water and sanitation services at the end of SDGs years. However, because it is ambitious to be realized by merely the government, the concerted efforts of all stakes are crucial. In this regard, Water.org’s model and financial institutions can play role, the Director said.

“Our model is ‘a pay-it-forward system and intends to reduce the levels of poverty and dependency on government or charity organizations assistance. The first approach is empowering capable individuals for the expected services of safe water and improved sanitation services through provision of loan from financial institutions. It is about paying for their solutions themselves. Hopefully, Org’s model would bring the desired solution in sustainable manner.”

However, he further said, those who are incapable of covering the cost, would be subsidized either by charity organizations or the government. By doing so, the nation can achieve the set goal- Sustainable Development Goals.