Ethiopia has a population of about 100 million people, of whom 35% lack access to safe drinking water, 91% of people do not treat their water. The challenge for the Ethiopian government is how to reach 90 million people, mainly in rural areas, with safely managed water and sanitation.
In 2011, EKHCDC and CAWST entered into a collaboration agreement to develop a WET (water expertise and training) Centre as a strategic program within their organization. Given the colossal need for WASH (water sanitation and hygiene) in Ethiopia, the WET Centre was established with the goal of building human capacity to start, strengthen, and grow WASH initiatives in the region.
The WET Centre staff saw the opportunity to create demand for household solutions by training members of an informal network of 16,230 Self-Help Groups (SHGs) throughout Ethiopia. These are village-based committees that enable saving and lending among members. The combined potential of working with both the government structure and the Self-Help Groups is tremendous. As of December 2017, 581,912 people are using better water or sanitation as a result of projects implemented EKHCDC’s clients.
Beyond impacting the lives of thousands of Ethiopians through their capacity building efforts, we love that CAWST supports the personal growth of local leaders like Martha Gebeyehu, manager of the WET Centre and 2018 recipient of the OU International Water Prize, recognizing an individual who has made significant international contributions, either through research or teaching or service activities, in the field of water supply and sanitation, with a focus on the world's poorest living in developing countries.