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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
10ADDISABABA273 2010-02-10 07:16:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Addis Ababa
Cable title:  

U/S OTERO TALKS WATER IN ETHIOPIA

Tags:   SENV EAID AMGT XW BY RW ET 
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					  UNCLAS ADDIS ABABA 000273 

SIPDIS
DEPT FOR OES/PCI LSPERLING, MGERDIN, SAN MARTINIT, AND ASALZBERG,
OES/ETC, OES/FO, OES/ENV, NEA/E,
AF/E JWIEGERT, AF/E, G NGOLDIN
DEPT FOR AID/EGAT, AID/ANE, AID/AFR/SD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAID AMGT XW BY RW ET
SUBJECT: U/S OTERO TALKS WATER IN ETHIOPIA

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SUMMARY
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1. (U) On January 30, 2010, Under Secretary (U/S) for Global
Affairs, Maria Otero, met with USG partners implementing programs to

improve access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH) for people
in Ethiopia. The meeting was hosted by USAID and included the Deputy

Chief of Mission, the Regional Environment Officer and
representatives from CARE, Save the Children USA, the International

Rescue Committee, and Merlin. Discussion focused on water
challenges in Ethiopia, with U/S Otero soliciting information on how

the U.S. can strengthen its response. From gender issues, to trends

that indicate chronic food security issues may be overlooked in lieu

of responding to pressing emergencies, interaction with Ethiopia's
government officials, and funding challenges, the group covered
significant ground. End Summary.



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BACKGROUND AND STATISTICS


--------------------------




2. (U) Ethiopia has one of Africa's lowest rates of access to safe
drinking water supply in spite of its ostensibly abundant surface
and groundwater resources. Despite recent reform measures, the
level of sanitation coverage in the country remains low; only 11% of

the population has access to adequate sanitation. It is estimated
that 73,700 annual child deaths occur in Ethiopia due to diarrheal
disease. According to a representative from the International
Rescue Committee (IRC), 25% of Ethiopia's population lacks access to

safe drinking water. In a country of approximately 77 million
people where the IRC reports an estimated 85% are rural subsistence

farmers, small and localized droughts in this 65% arid and semi-arid

land can affect up to a million inhabitants and risk displacement
and conflict. In 2008, USAID/Ethiopia invested over USD six million

while working in close partnership with Ethiopian national and local

government agencies, civil society organizations, and local
communities to increase sustainable access to safe drinking water,
sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH). USAID highlighted that it remains
committed to continuing these partnerships and achieving results on

the ground.



--------------------------


Gender Issues


--------------------------




3. (U) All participants agreed that water is a task and burden that

primarily falls to the women of Ethiopia. Addressing water needs
and making water more accessible can cut down on the amount of time

women must spend gathering water, thereby freeing female children to

attend school, breaking a cycle of young girls marrying early (and
having many children) because they lack alternatives to marriage,
and older women can spend more time on productive endeavors on the
farm, related to pastoralist livelihoods, or working on small
business activities. Moreover, many noted that when women and girls

must travel long distances to retrieve water, they are exposed to
safety and security hazards that can be mitigated when nearby safe
drinking water sources are established.



4. (U) Working to bring safe water sources closer to communities,
the Save the Children USA representative noted that they have
partnered with USAID to implement community-school WaSH partnerships

in four major regions of Ethiopia. The programs address emergency
water needs and also test community water supply systems. CARE
added that the multi-donor food program, the Productive Safety Net
Program (PSNP), incorporates successful WaSH initiatives that
include rural irrigation schemes, time saving potable water options,

and health-related sanitation programs. IRC added that it is
involved in water care and maintenance programs in and around
refugee camps, creating 200-300 meter bore holes and large-scale
water storage capacity. The NGOs pointed out that by encouraging
the development of community-based WaSH committees similar in
structure to PTAs (to collect and manage fees at community water
points, for example) that include women as members, WaSH initiatives

also have the capacity to empower women at the community level.
These types of bottom-up structures, according to the NGOs, can also

expose communities to small-scale democratic institutions and
concepts.



--------------------------


GoE Responsiveness


--------------------------




5. (U) According to the group of USG WaSH Partners, the Government
of Ethiopia is both engaged and interested in WaSH development,
particularly in the infrastructure, or hardware, of water. The group

noted that, in Ethiopia's top down system, government policies exist

at federal level down through to the rural level, but that problems

arise because the rural communities lack resources to implement
policies. It is at the rural, local community level that NGOs feel

they have the most value-added to bring to the table, focusing on
building capacity and provide training vs. handing over hardware.



--------------------------


WATER AND FOOD INSECURITY


--------------------------




6. (U) According to a representative from UK-based Merlin,
approximately 14 million of an estimated 77 million Ethiopians are
on food assistance. He noted with concern, however, that this group

of chronically food insecure is increasingly being overlooked as
disaster response funding gains momentum. Disaster response funding

is designed to confront food emergencies that are generally linked
to a lack of access to safe drinking water. In the Merlin
representative's opinion, this a short-term exercise of putting out

fires that is crowding out funding for the real underlying and
fundamental cause of food insecurity. He urged the group to
prioritize their objectives and not forget this chronic food
insecure baseline as funding for emergencies continues to flow.



7. (U) With the onset of climate-based changes, in addition to
continued population increases that will further stress limited
natural resources, the NGOs called upon USAID to use its vast
experience in WaSH-related activities to strengthen national and
regional institutions so that they can plan and prepare for change.

U/S Otero agreed that with approximately USD 500 million WaSH
funding invested around the world, USAID's experience in this field

is unmatched. Acknowledging a nexus between environment and
security that carries foreign policy implications, she discussed the

fact that she is elevating water at the State Department. U/S Otero

also encouraged the group of NGOs to coordinate with USAID and
Department of State embassy colleagues to arrange meetings with
visiting Congressional delegations, using the opportunity to explain

the full myriad of Ethiopia's complexities to the USG officials.



--------------------------


Funding Challenges


--------------------------




8. (U) The NGOs present at the USAID-hosted WaSH meeting with U/S
Otero took the opportunity to express frustrations with funding
cycles. They emphasized that multi-year funding, around two-four
years, is extremely important to developing, implementing, and
maintaining sustainable WaSH programs. Time is needed to develop
water sources for communities, to establish partnerships with the
local government and the community, to instill the notion of
ownership for sustainability, to procure supplies, etc. The NGOs
also commented that WaSH earmarks are too restrictive, requiring
reports on numbers of people reached versus encouraging innovation.

They would prefer a flexible environment where they would have some

space to experiment, scaling up successful, innovative pilots. U/S

Otero closed the meeting by expressing her gratitude for all the
hard work and dedication of the NGO community to effect positive
change in Ethiopia.



9. Nicole Goldin, Special Assistant to Under Secretary Maria Otero,

cleared this cable.

#YATES