Updated: Wednesday 30 November 2016

Ethiopia and Finland Launches a 960 Million Birr WASH Project

The Government of Ethiopia and the Government of Finland are launching a 960 Million Birr safe water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) project that runs from August 2016 to July 2019. The project, Community-Led Accelerated WASH (COWASH), is going to continue WASH implementation in 76 districts of 5 national regions.

“Finland and Ethiopia have a longstanding and fruitful collaboration in WASH-sector since early 1990s. Finland is proud having contributed to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal 7c of halving the amount of people living without clean water,” says Mr. Arto ValJas, Councilor at the Department of Africa and Middle East of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.

“The development cooperation between Ethiopia and Finland have resulted in an impressive returns. The remarkable achievement in the WASH services is a typical example of this. To further expand WASH services through empowering the communities to be fully in charge of their projects, Finland and Ethiopia have agreed to continue COWASH for three more years,” says H.E. James Dengchol Tot, State Minister of Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity.    

In the next three years, COWASH aims to provide more than 1 million people with access to safe water supplies while reaching 1 million more with improved sanitation and hygiene services. It also targets to construct 900 water points for schools and health facilities that are going to benefit 270,000 people in the target regions.

In addition, in a quest to accelerate women empowerment, COWASH intends to establish women-led micro and small enterprises in spare part supply, maintenance service and sanitation marketing. Besides its economic value, this approach will play pivotal role in enhancing the sustainability of the projects. On the other hand, the project will work to mainstream the needs of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.   

“In addition to COWASH support, Government of Finland will also contribute 48 Million Birr to One National Consolidated WASH Account program through Ministry of Finance and Economic coordination. To that end, it will work closely with all stakeholders including governmental, intergovernmental, non-governmental and private organizations,” says Arto Suominen, Chief Technical Advisor of Federal COWASH.

As it can be recalled COWASH that started 2011 is the extension of Rural Water Supply and Environmental program (RWSEP) that had been running from 1994 to 2011. On top of this, as of July 2015, COWASH has been given the responsibility of managing projects which were implemented by FinnWASH BG, another 7 years bilateral project that terminated June 2015 in Benishangul-Gumuz region .At the moment, COWASH is the major WASH project between the two sisterly countries.

Since 1994, a total of 18,086 water schemes have been constructed by these bilateral projects between the two countries. As a result, about 4.18 Million rural Ethiopians have gained access to safe water supply. Over the same period, more than 800 kebeles in the target districts have been declared open defecation free. Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of people have been trained in different WASH and related capacities. Similarly, to help run the implementation of community managed projects effectively, WASH institutions in 76 woredas have been physically capacitated.   

The total costs of the three projects in the last couple of decades (22 years) now stands at 2.2 Billion Birr. The costs have been shared among the Government of Ethiopia (25 %), the Government of Finland (65%) and target communities (10%).