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African Water Facility turns waste management into strategic input for local production value chain in Ethiopia

Water flowing from drain to the river

The African Water Facility (AWF) held a three-day event from September 28 to 30, 2016 to launch the Improved Sanitation Value Chain (ISVC) project, which aims to serve the urban poor in Arba Minch Town, one of the major cities of Southern Ethiopia. The AWF €1.5-million grant to the ISVC project will contribute toimprove sanitation and faecal waste management for more than 21,000 Arba Minch citizens while boosting the local businesses and agricultural production with the provision of eco-friendly and affordable fertilisers.

This project will help the municipality of Arba Minch address urgent sanitation needs at a time when its basic infrastructure and service levels are still largely inadequate, leaving more than half of the population without access to improved toilet facilities. Arba Minch – with a population of around 100,000 people – is among the fastest-growing towns of Ethiopia. The project will help increase water supply and sanitation service provision in the area, streamline interventions, build capacity from both public and private stakeholders, and meet critical infrastructure gaps.

The IVSC project will also improve the municipality sanitation planning by targeting the improvement of the sanitation service chain including the construction of improved toilets, better transport service for human excreta and increased production of compost for reuse. Moreover, the ISVC project will focus on increasing the various private services provided along the sanitation value chain, from waste collection, to transportation and processing. This will be done by helping small private businesses better leverage the income potential of the sanitation business and earn additional profits from the sale of the by-products of urine, faecal and organic waste as compost and fertiliser.

The launching event gathered key stakeholders from the Arba Minch Town Municipality and University, local civil society organizations and NGOs involved in sanitation-related activities, Gamo Gofa Zone, Omo Micro Finance Institute, hospitality and transport sectors, an organic fruit-exporting farmers’ association, a solid waste collecting association, and private sanitation and greenery enterprises. The launching workshop presented to the participants the AWF rules and procedures, in particular those related to procurement, disbursement and financial management while offering a platform to discuss and collaborate on the project’s practical implementation issues.

“With this project the AWF is spearheading wider application of many years of research towards full sanitation coverage in Ethiopia, and Africa,” said Franz Höllhuber, AWF Water and Sanitation Engineer, during the launching ceremony. “In the past, the focus was on increasing sanitation coverage, with much less attention placed on the downstream processes of collection, treatment and safe re-use (or disposal) of waste. By looking at waste as a resource, sanitation provision becomes a much more viable, effective and financially attractive enterprise.”

Ato Ezo Emako, Arba Minch Town Mayor, concluded the event by adding, “The Administration and population of Arba Minch are committed to make best use of AWF resources to put the recent Strategic Sanitation Master Plan into practice and address the challenges resulting from fast growth, youth unemployment and insufficient basic services through the sanitation value chain approach.”