The city of Debre Birhan lies in the center of Ethiopia, two and a half hours from the nation’s capital. While Debre Birhan is rapidly growing, the city does not yet have safely managed sanitation infrastructure and service delivery—from containment to disposal—that is adequate for all residents.
The large-scale urban sanitation issues facing Debre Birhan require a comprehensive response, which is why both USAID and the World Bank are working collaboratively to improve local sanitation through citywide inclusive sanitation (CWIS)—a comprehensive approach that focuses on the entire sanitation service chain, from containment to end-use or disposal.
On March 28, USAID’s Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership (SWS) hosted a webinar, "Designing for Sustainability: Bringing Citywide Inclusive Sanitation to Ethiopia," featuring representatives from both organizations to provide an update on their CWIS work in Debre Birhan.
SWS is working with local actors to strengthen local service delivery. The World Bank’s Ethiopia Second Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Project is providing substantial new sanitation infrastructure investment. Together, these projects are addressing the full sanitation service chain—from funding to wastewater reuse—to improve sanitation in Debre Birhan.
Webinar Presenter Gulilat Birhane Eshetu, a senior water supply sanitation specialist at the World Bank, said CWIS considers protecting human rights, building up the urban economy, and the value of sanitation services to human health and well-being. “The population [in Ethiopia] is growing fast, it is now more than 100 million,” Eshetu said. “The government has now given priority to sanitation.”
He continued, “Sanitation is becoming more of a focus. There should be a mechanism or systematic planning approach for urban sanitation.” Currently, Debre Birhan has about 182,000 residents, half of whom have access to basic sanitation services, Eshetu said.
CWIS is achieved incrementally over time. The major priorities are to stop open defecation, reduce unsafe sanitation, and increase safely managed sanitation. The other webinar presenter Lucia Henry, water resources and infrastructure associate at SWS partner Tetra Tech, said that SWS and the World Bank are currently in the early stages of collaboration. SWS is connecting local and national actors, including actors like journalists and business owners who are not typically part of sanitation planning, to set priorities and address learning gaps.
“If we fundamentally realize that the system is complex, then we realize that the missing piece in this equation is collective action,” she said. “This is the part of the process that targets representation of all ends of the room and gets them to share their experiences and have a voice at the table to, ultimately, achieve our goal...to have sustainable citywide sanitation.”
By Elise Zaidi of the USAID Communications and Knowledge Management Project
Interested in learning more? Watch the webinar above, access the handouts below, or view the original announcement.