RAIN Ethiopia Program


Approximately 83% of Ethiopia’s 80 million citizens live in rural areas where water and sanitation coverage is very low – the WHO Joint Monitoring Program estimates that 26% of rural Ethiopians have access to safe water and only 8% have access to improved sanitation. These deficiencies not only affect public health but also undermine productivity, economic growth, and gender equity.

Therefore, this program’s investments in water and sanitation are characterized as both a public health improvement and poverty reduction strategy. While many water supply projects in developing countries are largely premised on health improvements, this type of investment in Multiple Use Water Services (MUS) also offers economic and livelihood benefits that can increase incomes and in so doing support more sustainable water systems.

The program will build on MWA’s Ethiopia Program that has been delivering WASH programming since 2004.

Program Plan

The program was implemented from January 2013 through June 2014. It applied an integrated systems approach to WASH: all communities where water access is improved benefited from activities designed to increase sanitation coverage and improve hygiene behavior, in particular hand-washing. Sanitation and hygiene promotion activities began at the outset and continued throughout the program with the understanding that achieving behavior change is a long-term process that often requires repeated trainings and promotion activities.

Three Approaches to Program

  1. Water access for Multiple Use Water Services (MUS)
  2. WASH in schools and health facilities
  3. Water-related entrepreneurship

Sustainability was enhanced by taking into account existing demands for multiple uses and aligning demand with multiple sources, thereby reducing the risk of ‘misuse’ of domestic water supplies for productive uses. With this program, MWA-EP partners constructed or rehabilitated more than 50 community water schemes that now serve the multiple use needs of communities. Cattle troughs, hand-washing basins, and shower houses were also constructed to expand the multiple uses of water at planned schemes. In addition to promoting kitchen gardening and tree planting, MWA partners further built the capacity of community members, particularly women, to undertake larger scale income generation activities such as drip irrigation techniques and treadle pumps to support larger plots and more diverse crops by coordinating this program with other agriculture, microfinance and economic livelihoods development programs in the intervention areas.

Water Management Committees (WMCs) formed to ensure long-term sustainability

WMC members participated in the assessments and analyses and were trained on the financial, operational and maintenance aspects of their systems using the concepts and methodologies associated with the life cycle cost approach (LCCA). Links between WMCs and local governments were used to promote dialogue and long-term management support. WMCs were democratically elected by their communities and included the multiple sets (farmers, livestock owners, and domestic users). MWA partners worked with Woreda offices to ensure that all WMCs received 3-5 days of ‘refresher’ training annually. To quantify the incremental impact of adding MUS approaches to traditional water supply interventions, the MWA-EP documented and identified the additional benefits – economic and otherwise – that may accrue to communities and/or households from MUS activities to build the evidence base to support scale-up of MUS programs.

Schools and Health Facilities

In collaboration with Woreda government officials, MWA partners identified and prioritized schools and health clinics in need of improved access to water and/or sanitation and hygiene. GETF and TCCAF staff also participated in the selection process, led by Woreda staff during the first two months of the program. In total, WASH services in 15 schools and 7 health centers were improved over the program period. Teachers, parents, students, health extension workers and other government health staff received training to improve hygiene behaviors, particularly hand-washing.


The program supports water-related entrepreneurship with a specific emphasis on improving opportunities and empowering women in communities where water schemes are developed. This was achieved primarily through the formation of village level women’s savings and internal lending committees (SILCs) by CRS and women’s interest groups by World Vision. In most cases, savings and internal lending committees at the village level have 15-20 active members – in larger communities, there may be more members or multiple committees. Participants received additional training on leadership, financial management, reporting. Through matching funds, the groups also received ‘seed capital’, supplies (e.g., seeds, molds for concrete latrine components) and technical assistance to initiate activities.


All MWA programs employ and integrated approach to WASH: all intervention communities will benefit from improved access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene education. Funding from TCCAF allowed for implementation partners to leverage funding already committed to better meet the full range of community water needs in selected areas of rural Ethiopia and to build local capacity to improve direct implementation strategies in the future through partnerships with local governments and local NGOs.


A key focus of this program was to achieve sustainable access to WASH – particularly sustainable water access. There is increasing interest in water point and sanitation sustainability in the sector. This interest is partly in response to the approximately 36% of hand-pumps in sub-Saharan African countries that have been found to be non-functional over time, as well as the noted failure to achieve full use of sanitation facilities.

School WASH programs also face several sustainability difficulties. This failure to implement sustained interventions reflects many challenges in community governance, technology, and other issues, about which the sector continues to learn. What has amounted to millions of dollars in wasted investments has led to a call to a stronger commitment to sustainability across the sector.
MWA, CRS, WaterAid and World Vision have each signed the WASH sector Sustainability Charter (http://washcharter.org), pledging to take seriously their commitment to provide sustainable WASH services to target communities, forever.

Specific activities that supported the sustainability of this program include:

  • A supportive government policy environment and strong engagement and coordination with local and national government structures;
  • Active involvement of target communities;
  • Use of appropriate technologies;
  • Evaluation of the causes of dysfunctional water schemes and sustainable rehabilitation;
  • Ongoing and follow-up support to WASH Committees, including refresher trainings from Woreda offices;
  • Formation of artisan cooperation at woreda or sub-woreda level to create spare part supply chains and other necessary support services;
  • Agreements with woreda offices to stock supply parts with reasonable prices when other suppliers are unwilling to stock such parts;
  • Yield of water sources will be determined to be sufficient and sustainable; and
  • Environmentally sustainable WASH interventions, integrating IWRM and climate change adaptation strategies.

Retrospective studies of functionality by MWA-EP partners have shown high levels of long-term sustainability. In 2010, CRS collaborated with the local government and found that 90% of the water points implemented within the previous five years were fully functional. In 2012, WorldVision collaborated with Bahir Dar and Cornell University to assess the functionality of its water schemes over the past eight years finding that 80% were fully functional, 4% were partially functional, 8% were non-functional and 8% were under construction.