Ethiopia still has considerable progress in promoting and increasing its water supply coverage considering its large scale, sparse population, low infrastructure and water expenditure. Despite the issues of universal access to water, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) safe water supply coverage is achievable. Improved water coverage for efficient clean water and improved sanitation (Hutchinson 2016, p.269). Proper hygiene is possible by implementing low-cost innovations and promoting individual responses to evolving behaviour.
However, it seems that there is less to accomplish MDGs and government targets for clean water and improved sanitation. But the recent progress for adequate water supply is promising. Dorosh and Thurlow (2014, p. 231) elaborate that this creates hopes for successful water coverage for the Ethiopian citizens and its neighbors. This analysis determines the causes of dirty water and poor sanitation in Ethiopia with focus on the three sectors. These include private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Additionally, the analysis would give satisfactory results on how these areas can increase water sanitation in entire Ethiopian land.

Reasons for Water Sanitation in Ethiopia

As the second biggest nation in the world, Ethiopia has limited access to general clean water and sanitation. Over 43 million Ethiopian citizens do not have access to clean and sanitation and about 71 million Ethiopians fail to get access to better sanitation Grimes et al. (2016, p.4100). Dirty water continuously leads to spread of many diseases hence increase in mortality rates. Poor sanitation in Ethiopia occurs due to various factors including poverty which hinders citizens especially from the rural areas in obtaining better health services. Due to the high level of poverty in the countryside, Ethiopian residents lack funds and resources to seek better hygiene which is offered at higher prices. The second factor is increased rate of disease infection. Disease results due to consumption of dirty and untreated water from wells and boreholes. Hutchinson (2016, p.269) explains that disease increases mortality rate due to higher risks to infections from bacteria. Last is lack of adequate education among the Ethiopian residents especially the locals. Inadequate education makes residents unaware of the effects of dirty water and sanitation. Appropriate training provides knowledge and awareness of proper sanitation required by individuals.

Causes of Failure to have Clean Water

The Ethiopians fail to have clean because of the following reasons; they gather water from the wells that are filled with wastes and dirty rain waters or dug ponds that are shared with animals. Ethiopia is situated next to river Nile which carries dirty water and is heavily being used by the citizens Grimes et al. (2016, p.4100). Ethiopians also get dirty water due to floods or droughts depending on the seasons. There is minimal access to water sources as the individuals walk for three to four hours before reaching the water points. There is increased contamination of dams, rivers, wells, and ponds. This is due to the increase in pollution from industries and exploitation by global richness. The Ethiopian government does not have the adequate human capacity or fiscal resources for successful investment in water coverage and sanitation. Hill et al. (2014, p.303) argue that this makes the country through its institutions for failing in meeting the local demand of its citizens. The government and organizations lack distribution resources for clean water. Last is that there is limited law enforcement regarding water pollution and contamination for the individuals and companies (Hill et al. 2014, p.303). Moreover, the potential key causes include Ethiopian being located next to river Nile, exploitation from the outside and government investors, and failure of the fiscal resources which include lack of investment, distribution, and management. The analysis focuses on the three sectors to determine better mechanisms for providing clean water and better sanitation for the Ethiopian citizens and its neighbors.

The Sector Framework

Until recently, the government has been responsible for the efficient identification, implementation, and planning for improvement of water supply and sanitation (WSS) in Ethiopia. This is consistent with government established policies on decentralization of duties. However, these responsibilities shift to local and regional governments under the new National Water Resources Management Policies and Strategies (NWRMPS) (Hutchinson 2016, p.269). Moreover, the government has continuously developed a better coordination between water coverage and sanitation duties between the private sector, and the non-profit sectors. This has been achieved through sector financing which is essential in meeting the MDG objectives for water and sufficient sanitation to Ethiopian residents. The sector framework is divided into rural and urban areas respectively. This is necessary for the adequate location of government resources. However, each area has its core responsibilities and mandate in enhancing water sanitation as described below.

Fig 1.0 Mapping of the Major Causes of Water and Sanitation

Private Sector

The private sector which includes formal and informal sectors contributes over 82% of the gross domestic product (GDP) for the Ethiopian government and other organizations that provide water coverage (Hutchinson 2016, p.269). This includes the provision of funds to the WatSan committee for financial support in obtaining and supplying clean water, reliable equipment sales, and maintenance. The private sector has transformed from the provision of small market inputs to higher marketing inputs and outputs. It increases the level of productivity for various firms across the Ethiopian country. The private sector provides drillers, contractors, consultants, and suppliers with different partners. However, the united states are increasingly capitalizing on a better partnership with the Ethiopian government to improve and increase the economic growth.

Dorosh and Thurlow (2014, p.102) describe the association to cater for various programs with a focus on the provision of clean water and better sanitation for the Ethiopians. This involves private companies across the world headed by the U.S to invest in the country. As a result, it improves healthcare systems with reduced mortality rate. The private healthcare firms provide mechanisms of providing clean water and sanitation to the citizens. For example, the inclusion of world health organization (WHO) establishes projects in Ethiopia that provide clean waters and sanitation to the public (Hutchinson (2016, p.269).

The Ethiopia Privatization Agency (EPA) plays a key role in implementing government privatization programs. These programs are for public businesses to enhance water sanitation. Additionally, they are only countable to the government. The government privatization operates in three core ways which include joint ventures with a public sector, the outright sale, and efficient leasing to manufacturing and commercial organizations. However, the mandate of EPA fails to incorporate financial, utilities or the infrastructure services. But the private sector has significantly participated in the WASH programs as a means of providing knowledge on the essential of water and sanitation to the Ethiopians.

Grimes et al. (2016, p. 4100) explain that the WASH program led to the establishment of more waters sources for easy access by the public. This further reduced the long hour journey by the residents when seeking for water. Through active financing from the private sectors, there are more resources used for water distribution and provision of improved sanitation. Moreover, the private sectors provide the drilling wells, construction services, transportation serves and solid waste collection mechanisms. There is also adequate maintenance of water sources and services. This has been facilitated by private artisans and suppliers who are motivated to improve sanitation in Ethiopia and reduce disease infection. Therefore, the private sector has been successful in providing water and sanitation for the Ethiopians.

Public Sector

The Ethiopian government commits itself to a long term transformational plan and continuous growth which includes improving rural and urban livelihoods for the Ethiopian residents. In addition to providing consistent national food security programs. While water supply provision is still under the public organizations, the task of public sector continues to expand substantially and successfully. According to Hill et al. (2014, p.303), public sector engages in the provision of public services and activities, continuous clean water supply and providing goods. In addition to providing health equipment for the severely affected areas and construction facilities. It also ensures effective maintenance service and drilling more wells in different regions within the Ethiopian land. In improving the urban sanitation regarding solid waste management, currently, the public sector engages in providing primary and secondary collection techniques.

The primary collection method from various households is conducted by micro private enterprises while tracks achieve the secondary selection. This has radically reduced water pollution and increased sanitation in most polluted areas of Ethiopia. Similarly, Gebauer and Saul (2014, p.264) explain that the sector also engages in extraction and transportation of gathered or flowing liquid waste that pollutes the water sources for human consumption. The liquid waste is mainly concentrated in larger cities and congested towns of Ethiopia. The additional benefits of the public sector include increase demand in the provision of clean water by the residents, provision of water sector strategies and management policies for water resources, better public water sanitation programs, and hygiene procedures.

Active public sector ensures an increase in the rate of water coverage and improved sanitation for the general population hence becoming successful sector in Ethiopia. The public sector in association with the private sectors increases funding of different water projects in various parts of the country (Hill et al. 2014, p.303). This has increasingly led to the introduction of small enterprises for providing clean and packed water by the residents. Therefore, public sector makes it easy for the individuals to get easy access to finance, market development, and various institutional support regarding improving the water sanitation.

The Non-Profit Sector

The nonprofit sector plays a vital role in ensuring water sanitation in Ethiopia is developed and individuals saved from increased disease infection. This sector mainly involves various banks such as World Bank, the central bank of Ethiopia that provides funding for different infrastructure projects for better sanitation. This analysis concentrates on World Bank as the chief source of financing of the kite site which is aimed to improve sanitation situation for the Ethiopian residents. The World Bank in coordination with the central bank of Ethiopia provides loans to public groups. According to Hill et al. (2014, p.78), the loans are essential in providing financial assistance in handling poor water sanitation situations. However, the World Bank helps in the provision of rural and urban water supply rehabilitation and development. It also ensures constructions of technical, financial, and institutional management capacity apartments in cities and towns.

The bank continuously supports the Addis Ababa sewage treatment and master plan. Additionally, it funds the water basin planning in rural and remote areas where people scarcely get water. This involves offering sponsorship programs for different students who desire to advance their education to reduce high level of illiteracy in the region. Because of active World Bank involvement in improving water sanitation in Ethiopia, education is increased, mortality rates have reduced. Fortunately, the residents enjoy a constant supply of clean water from the private sector enterprises. Grimes et al. (2016, p.4100) explain that the sectors play different roles but have similar objectives for the residents of Ethiopia. The segments are associated with their tasks strategies for ensuring the provision of clean water and improving sanitation. As a significant outcome, the three sectors have reduced poverty through constant provision of goods, increase education for the residents through the introduction of learning programs and sponsorship. The sectors have also reduced mortality rates by improving sanitation in various residential areas such as reducing congestion in cities. In addition to providing appropriate sewerage and liquid waste disposal.

Fig 1.1 Mapping of the Casual Loops (Complex Systems)

The Microsystems

The Microsystems that influence water sanitation in Ethiopia include sewerage systems, infrastructure, and adequate funding. Based on the sanitation systems, the Addis Ababa water and sewage authority (WSA) engages in appropriate sewage disposal and water treatment mechanisms. According to Hutchinson (2016, p.269), this is unfortunately since it serves limited areas that are approximately 100 kilometers from the key sewer lines. Moreover, the water treatment plants are currently serving around 35000 Ethiopian population. Gebauer and Saul (2014, p.264) argue that based on infrastructure, the larger amount of water is collected from polluted and contaminated ponds and wells that the resident share with the animals. Not only does it increase chances of disease infection but also increases risks assessments. Due to sectors involvement in providing clean water, the industry provides chemicals for water purification before consumption once obtained from the polluted wells and ponds.

Last is constant funding where Ethiopian government aims at increasing funding for water and sanitation infrastructure. It ensures that the nation deals with unknown and unpredictable rainfall shortage and the occurrence of extended droughts. In Addis Ababa city, the available water plants only treat below 10% of the entire water sources (Hill et al. 2014, p.303). This results into the disposal of more untreated sewage and liquid wastes. The Emefcy and TTV work together to ensure successful treatment of liquid waste. This is assisted by water plants at the University of Mekele and Ayder hospital which is currently under constructions. Therefore, the three sectors are successful in playing a fundamental role in ensuring water coverage and sanitation in Ethiopia does not continue to affect the lives of the residents.


Dorosh, P. and Thurlow, J., 2014. Can cities or towns drive African development? Economywide analysis for Ethiopia and Uganda. World Development, 63, pp.113-123.

Gebauer, H. and Saul, C.J., 2014. Business model innovation in the water sector in developing countries. Science of the Total Environment, 488, pp.512-520.

Grimes, J.E., Tadesse, G., Mekete, K., Wuletaw, Y., Gebretsadik, A., French, M.D., Harrison, W.E., Drake, L.J., Gardiner, I.A., Yard, E. and Templeton, M.R., 2016. School water, sanitation, and hygiene, soil-transmitted helminths, and schistosomes: national mapping in Ethiopia. PLoS neglected tropical diseases, 10(3), p.e0004515.

Hill, R., Inchauste, G., Lustig, N., Tsehaye, E. and Woldehanna, T., 2016. Fiscal Incidence Analysis for Ethiopia. The Distributional Impact of Taxes and Transfers, p.79.

Hutchinson, R., 2016. ‘Closing the loop’: sustainable water supply and sanitation. The role of plumbing education in reaching this goal.

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