Twenty-nine percent of the Ethiopian population has access to basic water, while only seven percent has access to basic sanitation. Current and worsening drought conditions pose a threat to established drinking water and sanitation systems, and place added strain on basic services as populations move in search of water. Limited private sector engagement, policy constraints, and the lack of data for decision-making limit the sustainability of current service provision. These challenges motivate the strategic direction of USAID’s water, sanitation, and hygiene activities.
USAID emphasizes three strategic priorities within its WASH investments: sustainability, sanitation, and local ownership. Subject to availability of funds, USAID’s three flagship WASH activities — Growth through Nutrition, Lowland WASH and Transform WASH — reflect these priorities in scope, and support broader USAID objectives to reduce childhood malnutrition, increase resilience to drought and other weather-related shocks, and improve opportunities for private sector activity. USAID coordinates these activities closely with other donors and the Government of Ethiopia under the One WASH National Program (2013-2020), a government-driven, sectorwide approach to address the WASH needs of rural, urban, and pastoralist communities, schools, and health posts.
Other U.S. government agencies that are implementing activities in Ethiopia to advance the Global Water Strategy and USAID Ethiopia Country Plan include the USGS, the U.S. Forest Service within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the U.S. Department of State. The Department of State is training water and sanitation officials on wastewater/sewage management systems in collaboration with the U.S. Water Partnership, for example, as well as teaching Ethiopian officials to use geographic-information systems to map existing water resources and project needs.
Overall, USAID activities are estimated to provide more than 200,000 Ethiopians with sustainable access to basic water supplies, and help more than one million Ethiopians gain access to basic sanitation by 2020.