By Samuel Godfrey and Michele Paba
In the effort to improve delivery of essential services to women and children, South-South cooperation provides a platform for lower income countries to learn from middle income countries that have recently addressed developmental challenges similar to their own. Ethiopia’s aspiration to reach middle income status by 2020 means that its five-year Growth and Transformation Plan II is heavily reliant on exploring the economic and social development models of China, Brazil, Cuba and other Latin American Nations.
The need to address rapidly urbanizing small and medium sized towns is central to Ethiopia’s growth. UNICEF in its new Country Programme (2016-2020) has identified urbanization as one of the key challenges being faced by women and children. How do lower income households get access to equitable and affordable services such as health care, education, water supply and sanitation? How will the rights of out-of-school children in urban areas be protected?
To answer some of these questions, UNICEF Ethiopia has supported the South-South partnerships between the Government of Ethiopia and the Governments of Brazil and Cuba in two strategic areas, Urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Integrated Water Resource Management.
The cooperation initiative with Brazil was initiated in 2014 with the support of UNICEF Ethiopia and Brazil Country Offices and the UK Government, under the ONEWASH Plus Programme, with the aim of supporting the water and sanitation sector in Ethiopia in two key pillars, namely, the development of the sanitation sector in towns, with particular focus on technology transfer for the treatment of waste water generated by densely populated housing facilities such as condominiums, and the establishment of an independent regulatory framework for WASH services at all levels.
Given the extensive experience of the Cuban Government in river basin and water resource management, the recently established collaboration with the Ethiopian authorities, supported by UNICEF and the US Government, will definitively generate great impacts on the watershed management plans and riverine resources conservation initiatives across the country.
The two South-South initiatives were reviewed, through a consultative workshop held in Addis Ababa on 26 May 2016, by high level officials from the Ministry of Water Irrigation and Electricity, the Embassies of Brazil and Cuba, UNICEF as well as other sector institutions and development partners including the UK and US Governments. The workshop culminated in the signing of the three-year project document between Ethiopia and Brazil. Together, the partnerships with Brazil and Cuba will help Ethiopia strengthen the WASH sector to be able to better deliver services for children and communities.
During the event, the State Minister of Water Irrigation and Energy, H.E. Ato Kebede Gerba, underlined the importance of the integration of different forms of cooperation, both North-South and South-South, in order for the sector in Ethiopia to get the required exposure and learning from different experiences and practices.
Dr. Samuel Godfrey is Chief of WASH and Michele Paba a WASH Specialist at UNICEF Ethiopia