Summary Findings from Sustainability Checks for Rural WASH in Ethiopia

Technical Paper


Water, sanitation and hygiene focused sustainability checks were conducted to assess whether investments into rural WASH have led to continuously functioning systems and to what degree conditions for sustainable water and sanitation service provision are in place. Two survey rounds were conducted across 15 woredas, one in the wet season in 2018 the second in the dry season in 2019. The results are expected to support UNICEF to achieve more sustainable programming in Ethiopia across climatic zones (highlands/lowlands1) and different seasons (wet/dry season).

 The sustainability checks reveal four key topics that are recommended to be addressed:

  • The level of rural WASH services in Ethiopia shows significant geographical variations with generally lower water and sanitation service levels in the lowland areas of Afar and Somali regions. Emphasis is needed on eliminating regional inequalities in WASH service delivery.
  • Multi-village water schemes are providing similar levels of service to other scheme types. They are currently being managed by WASHCOs, and a gradual shift is being made towards more accountable rural utilities. It is recognised that long term support is needed to improve water scheme management as well as service authority performance. Investing in the professionalization of service providers is recommended.
  • The main seasonal variation of WASH service levels lies in the quality of supplied water which is generally better during the dry season. It is recommended to explore wider promotion of water safety planning which, through a better management of contamination risks, would be expected to improved water quality during both the wet and the dry seasons.
  •  Open defecation is still a challenge in many communities, particularly in the Lowlands. The capacity of local authorities needs strengthening to accelerate the construction and use of improved latrines. The implementation of the open defecation free verification system needs to be further improved to more accurately reflect the actual situation.

 Emotional distress was introduced to the checks as an attempt to measure this dimension for the first time. Overall distress was found to be low, but slightly higher for the sanitation situation in the Lowlands.

 The data collected as part of this assessment provide a valuable overview of the sustainability of WASH services in the selected woredas. It is recommended to continue the sustainability checks and to further develop the methodology and tools, in particular aspects related to sampling.

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UNICEF Ethiopia
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