By Dr Samuel Godfrey
Two months ago, I asked five friends of mine two critical questions; one where does the water that flows out of your tap come from and second where does the waste that is flushed down your toilet go to? Answers like, from a river or “my toilet waste is flushed down a sewer pipe…where it goes, I don’t know?” These answers are symptomatic of many educated peoples understanding. Last month, I asked five inhabitants of the northern Ethiopian town of Wukro the same question. All five respondents gave me an articulate description of borehole water as well as the exact location of all the septic tanks.
Water and Sanitation are a daily priority for most of the world and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 6 has been designed to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to water and sanitation by 2030.
In Ethiopia, UNICEF was ahead of the SDG curve and in 2013 developed a programme called the ONEWASH which was designed to pull all financial resources from the government, aid agencies, development banks and the UN around ONEPLAN.
To develop the ONEWASH programme, UNICEF Ethiopia was delegated by the Government of Ethiopia to design the strategy for a 10 year plan to ensure that the 50 million people gain access to water and 70 million people gain access to sanitation in every house in every town, city and village across Ethiopia. The ONEWASH is the biggest water and sanitation initiative in Africa and requires an estimated investment of US$2.4 billion. See http://www.unicef.org/ethiopia/OWNP_LEAFLET.pdf.
The ONEWASH programme has: ONE plan, ONE Budget, ONE Procurement system, ONE monitoring system and ONE report. Led by the ONEWASH Coordination office in the Government of Ethiopia Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity and with financial and technical collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, Education and Health, the ONEWASH was a “showcase” at the 2016 Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting.
UNICEF Ethiopia also teamed up with the key financiers in the WASH sector in Ethiopia such as the World Bank, African Development Bank, DFID, Government of Finland and others to set up a Sector Wide Approach (SWAp) pool fund called the Consolidated WASH Account where funds are blended together. To ensure all UNICEFs financial rule and regulations were respected, UNICEF Ethiopia developed a Fiduciary Risk Assessment tool. This is now been worked into a Programme Operational Manual and is used to guide the sector investments.
The SDGs present an opportunity and challenge for UNICEF Ethiopia. If ONEWASH is successful it will improve sanitation and hygiene facilities in hospitals, schools and health centres and will provide essential water supply for areas affected by climate change and drought. It will ultimately result in reducing undernutrition in children and improving the cognitive performance of school goers.
We are working in the WASH sector to complement and partner with other sector financiers to ensure that all children and all women, everywhere: rural and urban – development and emergency -have the right to water, sanitation and hygiene in communities, health centres and schools…..ONEWASH for all…
Dr Samuel Godfrey is Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Section Chief at UNICEF Ethiopia