Updated: Monday 26 January 2015

Minister for International Development of Finland visited Ethiopia

A Finnish delegation led by H.E. Ms Sirpa Paatero, the Minister for International Development of Finland, visited Ethiopia from 7 to 10 January 2015 with the objective to learn about the results achieved in the Finland-Ethiopia bilateral development cooperation projects and to discuss about developments in Ethiopia.

On Friday, the 9th of January, the high-level delegation including H.E. Ms Sirpa Mäenpää, Ambassador of Finland to Ethiopia, two journalists from Apu magazine and some key officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, paid a visit to Bahir Dar the capital of Amhara National Regional State to meet the implementers and beneficiaries of development cooperation projects.

The field visit was started with the exhibition of the projects at Avanti. The staff members of Agro Business Induced Growth Programme (Agro-BIG), Community-Led Accelerated WASH (COWASH), FinnWASH-BG Programme, Responsible and Innovative Land Administration in Ethiopia Project (REILA) and Zenbaba Bee Products and Marketing Cooperative Union presented some key aspects of their project implementation and achievements.  

Mr. Arto Suominen, Chief Technical Advisor of COWASH Federal TA Team, briefed the delegation on the core working principles and benefits of the Community Managed Project (CMP) approach implemented currently in 71 districts in rural Ethiopia. He explained how CMP has resulted in increased community ownership, better cost-efficiency and sustainability of the projects.

COWASH took the delegation to Yeloma kebele in Bahir Dar Zuria woreda where the delegation visited Gult-5 community water point which was constructed in 2012 with the support of COWASH. The water point has provided safe water supply to a bit more than 300 people, who previously used to drink from an unprotected spring.

Mr. Abrham Kebede, COWASH Amhara Team Leader, introduced the Minister to the hand dug well and to the members of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committee (WASHCO) who are managing the water point. H.E. Ms Sirpa Paatero had a chance to see herself how the scheme works by pumping water to the jar from this hand dug well. She also had a brief discussion with WASHCO members on the operation and maintenance of the scheme and on the benefits the water point has brought to the community.

The minister also met Mrs. Yelibe Yibelu who is the guard of Gult-5 water point. Yelibe, a mother of four, took the delegation to her house where they visited the typical rural Ethiopian household. Yelibe showed the household’s latrine with hand-washing facility to the delegation and had a long conversation with the Minister about the everyday life of her family. “Now we have our basic needs covered. It’s up to us to make the future bright,” replies Yelibe to the Minister who wanted to know what would be her household’s plans for future.

During the day the delegation also learned about the cooperative that produces certified onion seeds at Agro-BIG site, about pole marketing at Zen Baba Cooperative Union and about the importance of the land registration for the local farmers at REILA site. The delegation also paid a visit to Ambo Mesk Primary School. At the lunch break the delegation had an opportunity to enjoy traditional Ethiopian music and dance. After a long day in the field, the delegation was clearly happy with the achievements they have seen.

Some days after the return of the Minister to Finland, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs released a press release where the Minister describes her visit to Ethiopia. “The development cooperation including water sector cooperation is most efficient and sustainable when as a result of it the local people will gain the ability to work themselves for the better future and well-being. Just recently, during my visit to Ethiopia, I learned how the approach, developed in the water projects funded by Finland, gives managerial and financial responsibility of the water points to the local communities themselves and how this model has been scaled-up to the national level implementation. Already 3 million people have gained access to safe water supply due to Finnish development cooperation in Ethiopia”, Mrs. Paatero explains in the press release.