Salfiso Kitabo

In this new column ‘The FINISH family’ we will showcase one of our partnerships. For its inauguration, we would like to introduce our partner Water.org. A few questions to Salfiso Kitabo, Country Director of Water.org in Ethiopia.

In which ways do Water.org & FINISH activities find synergy in Ethiopia?

As our two organizations specialize in water and sanitation issues, we can jointly produce a combined effect on the Ethiopian WASH sector, which will be greater than the sum of each of our separate [parts]. Water.org will share its expertise of private WSS financing and FINISH Mondial can bring its global expertise—we will jointly fight this enemy to the men, women and children of Ethiopia. As FM believes and stands for, achieving this requires enablers and like-minded partners. SDG 6.2 states, “Achieve access to sanitation and hygiene and end open defecation by 2030”. The year 2030 is 10 years away. It will be a huge task if not a miracle to get the current 7% toilet coverage to 100%. Remember, Ethiopia has had a sanitation proclamation since 1897, while training of sanitarians started in 1940, yet <10% have safely managed toilets. So, dependency on charity and public funding should end and end now, allowing the charities and public funding to only focus on the poorest of the poor. All poor are not equally poor. Public Private Partnerships in to the WSS is not only an option, but a must-do task.

What is the main strength of this partnership?

A recent report from WaterAid labeled Ethiopia as number one of the top ten countries where most of its people do not have decent toilets. Meanwhile, almost 93% being without basic sanitation is an alarm that triggers questions on the way sanitation improvement is handled in Ethiopia. Therefore, the strength of this partnership is disrupting the “business as usual” scenario of handling WSS crises by including private sector financing. The other strength is the identification of local potential. Our strength is dealing with private financial institutions to make the sector bankable. Water.org is able to mobilize over 30 million Birr (Over USD$1 million) in less than a year for private household loans to construct their individual toilets and water connections. This is huge strength to build on, as it is totally new to the country. We should note that the funding gap for OWNP phase two programme is USD$ 2,879 million (Source: UNICEF 2018). This is 43% of the total budget needed. Our synergy will help fill this gap.

What do you hope to take away from the partnership?

This partnership will help both organizations to scale. With the  African Union (AU) in Ethiopia (Addis), FINISH Mondial could join the efforts of Water.org planning to start with AU.

What are you most hopeful to achieve together in the near future?

We hope that the system of dependence on donors and government funding is changed. Water.org was able to include the following in to the policy document of the governments OWNP phase II document (www.cmpethiopia.org/media/ownp_phase_ii_final_version_2019, see section 10.2.8 on page 114).

  1.  Make national banks and development banks include WASH lending as one of the priority lending schemes, as was done for agriculture, Income generating and energy credit schemes.
  2. Include banks and MFIs to this document as part of the major sources of funding in clear terminologies by showing the role of MFIs and banks as was done for other sources for financing.
  3. Convince the commercial banks and development banks to allocate dedicated capital for MFIs to take loans from these banks and lend for household water and sanitation self-financing, as these MFIs are within the communities.
  4. Put forward mechanisms to recognize household WASH facilities implemented through self-financing (accessing MFI) and incorporate in sector reports. We believe the partnership of FM and Water.org will insure this is implemented.

In your view, what is the most promising long-term outcome of this partnership?

The long-term outcome will be seeing this sector as bankable and that the private sector is interested to invest in WSS. This will help donors, NGOs and governments free up their limited funds and focus their efforts on more targeted ways to help the most vulnerable. We want to see the whole 54 Courtiers of Africa are practicing this.