During a close out event for USAID's Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership three Ethiopian woredas promised to continue facilitating the learning alliance platforms.
The USAID funded Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership (SWS) has supported South Ari, Baka Dawla Ari, and Woba Ari woredas of South Omo Zone in strengthening WASH systems through facilitating learning alliance meetings, supporting the development of woreda WASH SDG master plans, strengthening rural water maintenance arrangements, and monitoring. The five-year learning partnership is ending and a close out and learning dissemination event was conducted in Jinka town, the capital of South Omo Zone, on October 22, 2021.
The administrators of the three woredas have pledged to continue the system strengthening activities, which until now have been facilitated by the learning partnership. They also said that the learning partnership’s activities have helped them understand the value of system strengthening and motivated them to give more attention to WASH activities. They have promised to allocate some budget to continue facilitating the learning alliance meetings and to mobilise resources to implement the master plans.
‘’The learning partnership has brought a lot of changes. Previously the issue of water was only the water office's responsibility, but now administration, finance, education, health and other offices are aware that they are also responsible and need to actively participate in and contribute to every WASH activity from planning up to implementation, monitoring and maintenance,’’ according to Yohannis Menti, South Ari Woreda’s Water, Mine and Energy Office Head. He said that the learning alliance meetings played a great role in creating a synergistic environment and South Ari Woreda is planning to convene the 13th learning alliance meeting.
South Omo Zone Water, Mine and Energy Department Head, Workineh Kerma, said that the learning partnership has supported the three woredas in establishing WASHCOs, Federations, and capacitating the WASH sector in planning, maintenance, and monitoring. The effort, so far, has enabled the woreda administrators to identify gaps and develop a detailed plan for the sector, said Workineh. He also said that the responsibility of facilitating the future learning alliance meetings is up to the woredas and the zone administration will continue supporting them.
The discussion underscored the need for sharing the experiences of the three woredas with other woredas in the zone. The zone plans to use the learnings of the three woredas to convince the region to support the WASH system strengthening activities.
Though SWS is winding up, IRC WASH will continue to support South Ari Woreda in WASH system strengthening. Further support for Baka Dawla Ari and Woba Ari will depend on the availability of additional funding.