Sustainable management of water systems in Halaba Special Woreda, Ethiopia

Access to improved drinking water in Halaba Special Woreda, Ethiopia was 43.5% in 2011. Its 280,000 residents are highly dependent on water from 40 regularly malfunctioning deep boreholes. In collaboration with stakeholders, People in Need has implemented a sustainable water systems management project in the woreda. The project seeks to address the underlying causes of persistently poor access to safe water through participatory capacity development activities. Preliminary results indicate reduced water scheme malfunction times, better links between stakeholders increased decision transparency, and improved efficiency and effectiveness of management processes. Several lessons learned and challenges have been identified including: a need for strong responsibility ownership amongst stakeholders; regulatory clarity regarding the legal status WASHCOs; and better understanding of local perspectives and financial factors. Overall, the project’s focus on improved access to safe water through better management rather than water supply investments has shown to be both cost effective and efficient.