World Bank and Ethiopia vow to accelerate water and sanitation initiatives

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WASHINGTON – Ethiopia and the World Bank have pledged to expedite efforts to improve access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services in the country, emphasizing the critical role of such services in poverty reduction and climate resilience. At the Eastern and Southern Africa WASH Leadership Summit on Wednesday, Ethiopia’s Finance Minister Ahmed Shide together with World Bank Vice President Victoria Kwakwa reviewed ongoing water projects and identified potential areas for collaboration.

The summit discussions revealed that despite advancements in water management, a significant number of Ethiopians still lack access to essential WASH services. This shortfall hampers poverty alleviation initiatives and is further exacerbated by limited domestic funding and operational inefficiencies, such as water leakages and failures at rural water points.

Both parties committed to achieving universal service access by accelerating the implementation of World Bank-funded initiatives. These initiatives aim to enhance WASH service access and bolster Ethiopia’s climate resilience. To attract additional funding, the need for institutional reforms and innovation was stressed.

Earlier in the week, Kwakwa had called for institutional reforms and a more favorable environment for private sector participation in water supply and sanitation projects. She pointed out the high perceived risks deterring private sector investment in the sector and advocated for a de-risking strategy.

Kwakwa also emphasized the broader implications of inadequate WASH infrastructure on poverty reduction and shared prosperity across Sub-Saharan Africa. She highlighted that underfunding from government budgets and development partners like the World Bank posed significant challenges. If unaddressed, it is projected that 345 million people in the region could lack basic water services by 2030, affecting girl child education and leading to broader human and economic crises.

The health risks associated with poor WASH conditions were acknowledged, along with the need for stakeholder engagement to tackle issues such as open defecation. Furthermore, Kwakwa underscored the importance of aligning WASH strategies with principles of climate resilience, expressing hope for regional progress in this critical area.

In response to these challenges, an Ethiopia-specific WASH conference has been agreed upon to further dialogue and develop a comprehensive plan. This plan will focus on sustainable financing, increased private sector engagement, enhanced regulatory frameworks, and achieving universal access to WASH services.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

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