Implementing the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) flagship water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activity in the rural lowland areas of Ethiopia through the Lowland WASH project, AECOM delivers technical assistance, develops small-scale infrastructure, and builds capacity of national and regional governments and stakeholders in the Somali, Afar and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) regions. Through its interventions, Lowland WASH aims at increasing access to improved and sustainable drinking water supply sources; enabling adoption of key hygiene behaviors and enhanced sanitation practices; improving the efficiency and sustainability of food production from irrigated and rain-fed agricultural systems; and facilitating better water resource governance and data management.

Selected Outcomes

  • Enabling 160,000 people in over 60 kebeles to have first time and better access to sanitation facilities and achieve Open Defecation Free (ODF) status.
  • Developing over 60 small-scale new and rehabilitated water systems.
  • Leveraging over 500,000 USD in private and public sector funding from Dow Chemical and UNICEF.
  • Engaging more than 189,000 community members including religious leaders, school directors and local administrators through targeted hygiene promotion and education activities.
  • Installing 120 wireless remote sensors on water systems with an innovative cloud-based data management platform to assist regional water bureaus to track and monitor system functionality more effectively.
  • Facilitating the adoption of natural resource management plans of over 7,000 hectares surrounding rehabilitated/new water systems.
  • Providing over 122,000 people in the rural regions with access to improved drinking water supply.

Project Highlight – Building Resilience and Sustainability: Solar-Powered Water Schemes in Rural Ethiopia

In the dry, austere areas of Afar, solar-powered water systems are providing much needed and cost-efficient water supply resources to isolated pastoral and semi-pastoral communities.

In the most remote and rural lowland regions of Ethiopia, pastoralist communities are underserved from basic infrastructure such as roads and electricity. These communities, therefore, have relied heavily on diesel-generated power to help pump critical water supply from deep, motorized groundwater wells. Diesel fuel, however, remains prohibitive for these communities due to the added transportation costs for delivery to these remote areas. In order to improve the resiliency of access to safe water sources from motorized water wells, our USAID Lowland Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Activity is equipping an increasing number of water systems with solar power as an alternative to diesel fuel.

In collaboration with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation, and Energy (MoWIE), the Activity provides technical trainings on solar water pumping systems to staff from the MoWIE, Ethiopian Water Technology Institute (EWTI), the Somali and Afar Regional Water Bureaus (RWB), local Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) centers, and Woreda Water Offices (WWO). To date, 30 staff have been trained in design and specification of solar water pumping systems at EWTI’s campus in Addis Ababa. Additionally, two regionally based trainings were held on operation, maintenance and troubleshooting of solar-powered water systems, with over 50 staff from MoWIE, EWTI, RWBs and WWOs and the TVET centers attending each training.

The Activity went a step further by delivering a Training of trainers (ToT) program to EWTI and offered lessons plans and presentation materials at the end of the training to facilitate integration into their regular curriculum.  Through this initiative, we’re accelerating EWTI’s long-term goal to begin teaching solar-powered water system design and operations at its Addis Ababa campus for students from all nine regional states.

Finally, to ensure sustainability, the Activity is working with MoWIE to develop a MoWIE Guideline for the Operation, Maintenance and Trouble-Shooting of Solar Water Pumping Systems and update the 2013 MoWIE Guideline for Design and Implementation of Solar Powered Water Systems. These guidelines will be made available in early 2019 by MoWIE to all nine regions, as well as international donors, NGOs and the private sector to help encourage the proper design, construction and maintenance of solar-powered water systems throughout Ethiopia.

By the end of September 2019, twelve solar-based systems will have been constructed or rehabilitated by the USAID Lowland WASH Activity in the Ethiopian lowland communities of Afar and SNNP, providing an estimated 31,755 Ethiopians with improved access to safe drinking water.

For additional information, contact nikita.salgaonkar@aecom.com or michael.blair2@aecom.com.