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Not On Target

January 18, 2012

I’m going to throw some acronyms at you today.

WaSH Movement

Perhaps you have heard of them or (more impressive) you know what each stand for (without using Google).

WaSH simply stands for “Water, Sanitation, Hygiene”. The “Movement” portion is specific to Ethiopia. WSSCC stands for “Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council”. In 2004, wsscc along with many other government organizations, NGO’s, faith-based organizations, the private sector (and many others) joined together to establish the WaSH Movement to improve Health and Sanitation in the very poor country of Ethiopia.

Starting in 2004, and each subsequent year thereafter, the movement began with a theme. The theme was to be the focus that each organization would have in order to strengthen the movement by ensuring that the same information was being provided throughout Ethiopia. The annual themes so far have been:

2009/2010: Urban sanitation and hygiene
2007/2008: International Year of Sanitation
2006/2007: Water quality under the motto “Keep Water Safe”
2005/2006: Appropriate disposal of human wastes under the motto “Use Latrines for Your Health and Dignity”
2004/2005: Proper hand washing at critical times under the motto “Your Health is in Your Hands”

Many key people are involved with the “Movement” and locals, government officials, representatives of NGO’s and many more engage to discuss and coordinate training and studies. The Movement places communities, women and children at the center of the activities since it is probable that they are the key players in changing the behaviors within their communities.

(I will be revisiting this point about women and the impact they have on their communities in a later post.)

This all “sounds” like a good plan, but it’s not working.

Ethiopia is not meeting its targets with the proposed improvement in health and sanitation in urban and rural villages. You can click here for the chart on trends and targets for improved sanitation and drinking sources in Ethiopia.

By 2015 the goal was to have at least 52% of the total population (urban and rural combined) will have improved sanitation facilities and at least 59% improvement in the use of improved drinking water resources.

Currently Ethiopia is at a mere 12% improvement (since 1990) in sanitation facilities and 38% (since 1990) in the use of improved drinking water resources.


Current research has shown that at a rate of this improvement, they will not reach their goal until 2098.

This post isn’t fancy. It’s about statistics and acronyms and plans. I share it with you for you to better understand (briefly) what is being done to improve the water supply and sanitation at a bigger level. It is much more involved than merely landing in said country, drilling a well, and leaving. It’s complicated, it’s frustrating, it’s overwhelming, but it’s not to say it is a situation without hope. It is important to know numbers. It is important to know statistics. It is important to know what is being done on the government level. The more knowledgeable you are about a situation, the better understanding you have on how you can be of assistance.

I also hope you don’t see the above percentages as just numbers either. They do have faces and I hope to see a drastic improvement well before the projected date of 2098. Will you join?

Sanitation and Water for All

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