New water, sanitation and hygiene programme takes off in Ethiopia

2 Sep 2009

Following a 15-month planning phase, the Finland-Ethiopia Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme in Benishangul-Gumuz (FINNWASH BG) has officially moved to its implementation phase for the period of 2009-2012.

The programme targets the Northern administrative zone Metekel, with five woreda-districts, and a population of some 250.000.

The overall objective of the programme is to help the Benishangul-Gumuz regional state to achieve the country's ambitious plan to extend access to water and sanitation to 98% of the inhabitants in Metekel by the end of 2012. Outlined in Ethiopia's principle WASH strategic plan named the Universal Access Plan (UAP), this is a considerable task, particularly taking into account that at the end of 2008 access rates in rural Ethiopia average 52%.

Finland has been active in the water supply sector since the beginning of its Rural Water Supply and Environmental Programme (RWSEP) in 1994 in the Amhara regional state. During RWSEP, currently in its fourth and final phase, an innovative mechanism to channel grant funding for water point construction was devised (the Community Development Fund - CDF). Focusing on community-driven management, CDF, has shown excellent results in terms of construction speed, effectiveness cost-efficiency, and sustainability.

Replicating the success in other areas

After promising results in Amhara, Ethiopia officially requested support from Finland to help replicate it in other areas. Accordingly, Benishangul Gumuz, and particularly the Metekel zone adjacent to the RWSEP programme areas, was jointly selected for replication.

The planning phase aimed to establish a clear way forward in an area that is scarcely populated, poorer in economic terms, has less infrastructure, great distances and less accessibility, particularly in terms of CDF applicability. During this phase, capacity has been built, studies conducted, community demand ensured and, importantly the first 82 water points constructed.

While challenges exist, with enhanced information based on hands-on experience, the joint cooperation has now been able to plan and budget for four years of WASH development.

For more information, please contact the Embassy of Finland in Addis Ababa:, or

Original article: New water, sanitation and hygiene programme takes off in Ethiopia