Ethiopia meets MDG 7c target for drinking water supply

Ethiopia meets MDG target for drinking water
Group photo with all partners who helped achieve Ethiopia meet MDG target for drinking water. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Sewunet

23 March 2015, ADDIS ABABA: Today, the Government of Ethiopia announced a remarkable achievement in the Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector as it met Target 10 of the MDG 7c  for access to drinking water supply. The announcement was made in the presence of H.E Dr Mulatu Teshome, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, H.E Engineer Wondimu Tekle, State Minister on behalf of His Excellency the Minister Ato Alemayehu Tegenu, Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Senior Government Officials, Ambassadors, UN representatives, WASH partners and members of the media.

Dr. Mulatu Teshome, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on the occasion said. “I would like to congratulate you of this great achievement of meeting the Water Supply MDG target and ensure you of the commitment of Ethiopian Government to make realistic its responsibility of providing access to safe water supply and sanitation services at appropriate service level to all its citizens. I call upon all of you to continue joining hands with the Government on reaching to the unreached”.

Ethiopia meets MDG on clean water

The 2015 assessment report by the UNICEF/WHO Global Joint Monitoring Programme for Water and Sanitation (JMP) indicates that Ethiopia has met the target of 57 per cent[1] of the population using safe drinking water and has attained the target by halving the number of people without access to safe water since 1990.

H.E Engineer Wondimu Tekle, State Minister on behalf of His Excellency Ato Alemayehu Tegenu, Minister, Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy said, “Thanks to the great leadership of the government, the diligent effort of WASH actors in particular and Ethiopian communities at large for reaching the have-nots in water supply; the country has achieved MDG 7c target”.

“Today’s event represents a great milestone to us, development partners, civil society, NGO, bilateral, multilateral, public and private sector professionals as we have joined hands to make this achievement a reality.  It is also a historic moment, where Ethiopia demonstrates its political commitment to resolving challenges in the Water and Sanitation Sector,” he added.

Ethiopia has embarked on an ambitious Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) which placed water supply at the core of all future development agenda. The Government’s heavy investment in the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) fund combined with increased donor contribution enabled the rapid acceleration of water supply coverage in many parts of the country. In addition, Ethiopia has developed a ONEWASH programme designed to ensure universal access to WASH services by 2015. The plan has a budget of US$ 2.4 billion and involves the collective contribution of public, private, NGO and donor investments.

Ethiopia meets MDG target for drinking water
Ms Leila Pakkala, Regional Director, Eastern and Southern Africa, speaking on behalf of the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) during the celebration event of Ethiopia’s MDG achievement on drinking water supply. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Sewunet


Ms Leila Pakkala, UNICEF Regional Director, Eastern and Southern Africa, speaking on behalf of the Joint Monitoring Programme said, “In 1990 only 6 million people had access safe water. Today, over 55 million people access clean and safe water. The progress that has been made has been impressive, to say the least. But we know that the progress we are celebrating today comes as a result of many years of consistent investment, time and resources at all levels. It has not been an easy achievement”.

The JMP estimates for Ethiopia were updated following a joint mission to Addis Ababa from 26-27 November 2014 and include data from the most recent nationally representative surveys. The current JMP estimates show that in the 1990 baseline year access to drinking water was 14 per cent and access to sanitation was 3 per cent. This means that Ethiopia’s MDG target for drinking water was 57 per cent and for sanitation was 52 per cent. The current JMP estimates show that by 2015 access to improved drinking water has increased to 57 per cent and access to improved sanitation has increased to 28 per cent.

Accordingly to the JMP, the total population reached with safe water between 1990 and 2015 is 48 million. There are still 42 million Ethiopians without access to safe water.  Of the 42 million Ethiopians who are not using improved water supplies, an estimated 33 million people are residing in rural areas and peri urban communities and 9 million are living within towns and cities.

Ethiopia commits to meet millennium development goals in water and sanitation by 2015

Istahi Sohane, 28, mother of 4, divides her precious water at her home in Yahas-Jamal Keble in Somali region of Ethiopia
Istahi Sohane, 28, mother of 4, divides her precious water at her home in Yahas-Jamal Keble in Somali region of Ethiopia 11 February 2014. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ose

Two and a half billion people – over a third of the world’s population- live without adequate sanitation facilities. Nearly 800 million people still do not have access to an improved source of drinking water protected from outside contamination. Sanitation and Water for All (SWA), a global partnership of over 90 developing country governments, donors, civil society organisations and other development partners, seeks to address these problems.

The 2014 SWA High-Level Meeting (HLM) was held on Friday 11 April 2014 at the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC. Convened by UNICEF, the meeting was attended by Ministers of Finance from developing countries, accompanied by their ministers responsible for water, sanitation and hygiene sectors, as well as donors, civil society and other development partners. Ethiopia was well represented by ministers from the country’s water, health and education sectors.

2014 SWA HLM
Sanitation and Water for All High Level Ministerial Meeting 2014. Credit: SWA/Kristoffer Tripplaar

The meeting was opened by a high-level panel including the SWA Chair, John A. Kufuor, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, President of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, UNICEF Executive Director, Mr. Anthony Lake, and Ethiopia’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Sufian Ahmed.

The objective of the meeting was to outline an ambitious and yet achievable vision for the sector by linking WASH and sanitation to the economic growth agenda and by communicating with finance ministers about how to best achieve ‘value for money’ as well as emphasising the importance of making investments that improve sustainability and equality.

During this meeting, 44 SWA partner countries made 265 new smart commitments in three main areas:

  • Greater attention to sustainability
  • Strengthening national monitoring systems beyond household surveys to include institutional WASH facilities
  • Focus on urban sanitation

The 2014 meeting demonstrated the highest level of global commitment to water and sanitation issues. Ethiopia was highly prominent in the meeting and was the only country to have water, health and education ministers present, which was relevant, as these sectors have been placing significant emphasis on institutional WASH implementation in schools, health centers and public institutions.

In the only presentation made by a host country during the 2014 HLM, Sufian Ahmed highlighted how Ethiopia is working to combine resources from development partners to meet the Millennium Development Goals in water and sanitation by 2015. The presentation was well received by Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon and the members of the panel.

2014 SWA SMM
The Sanitation and Water for All Sector Ministers’ Meeting 2014. Credit: SWA/Kristoffer Tripplaar

A day before the HLM, a Sector Minister Meeting (SMM) was held on 10 April and was facilitated by UNICEF. Ministers from 54 countries and global directors of key development partners attended the meeting to discuss their countries’ high-level commitment statements, which had been prepared by each country. The SMM meeting enabled ministers to interact informally, agree on a summary of commitments, and dialogue with other SWA constituencies.

In its statement of commitments, Ethiopia laid out its vision of how it is working to improve health and wellbeing in rural and urban areas by increasing water supply and sanitation access and by adopting good hygiene practices in an equitable and sustainable manner. The country is determined to reach targets set out in the Universal Access Plan (UAP) by 2015, aiming at 98.5 per cent of the population having access to water. Ethiopia is also targeting to achieve universal access to basic sanitation, thereby eliminating open defecation nationwide, as well as aiming for 77 per cent of the population to wash their hands with soap or ash at critical times.

The meeting also reviewed progress against the 2012 commitments and discussed and confirmed the 2014 and 2016 commitments. Ministers noted that 40 per cent good progress had been made to a total of 415 commitments made by all countries in 2012. Impressive gains were also made in commitments related to financing and planning. Greater focus is still needed on the commitments related to private sector participation and decentralisation. The 2014 commitments for Ethiopia included greater focus on urban sanitation and a need to strengthen the overall monitoring and evaluation system of the WASH sector.

UNICEF Ethiopia, Chief of Water and Environmental Sanitation, Samuel Godfrey attended the High Level Meeting in DC and reflected on Ethiopia’s role and what the future holds for water and sanitation in Ethiopia.