Ethiopia's water and sanitation crisis

62 million Ethiopians lack access to safe water and 97 million lack access to improved sanitation. Of those who lack access to improved sanitation, a staggering 23 million practice open defecation.

In rural Ethiopia, a survey found that many women and children walk more than three hours to collect water, often from shallow wells or unprotected ponds they share with animals. Recurring droughts result in famine, food shortages, and water-related diseases, as people are forced to rely heavily on contaminated or stagnant water sources.

In terms of financial access, Ethiopia has a large market with three million borrowers and several state-funded microfinance institutions. In a 2014 survey of more than 400 rural households, we found:

  • 70 percent of respondents were interested in a loan for improved water
  • 64 percent of respondents were interested in a loan to meet their sanitation needs

Our impact in Ethiopia has a strong history of implementing water projects in Ethiopia. started working with regional NGO partners in the country in 2004 and reached 180,000 people with improved water and sanitation access through these community partnerships. In 2015 we began piloting lending for water and sanitation with microfinance institutions. Since then, has reached more than 59,000 people with access to water and sanitation through small, affordable loans.

  • Featured

    Water for Matthews' family

    Matthews learned about the opportunity made possible for his village through his local bank. In partnership with, Matthews’ bank offers small, affordable loans for water connections and toilets. The amount Matthews and Butukan paid for water at the kiosk far exceeded what could be payments toward a long-term water solution in their home. Matthews decided to finance a water connection.

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  • Featured

    The power of water for Tamenech's family

    The power of water ended Tamenech and Joseph’s water crisis. Not only did Tamenech want to prevent her children from walking to rivers or ponds to find water like she did as a child, but her role as a nurse gave her the insight to know how unhealthy that water is. Read Tamenech's story.

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Stories of people we empower in Ethiopia

To help us reach more people in need of safe water and sanitation in Ethiopia, donate today.