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Cordaid NL
Resilience Ethiopia

What matters in urban Ethiopia?

With estimated 10% sewerage connection coverage, Addis Ababa has a lot to worry about its liquid waste management. A possible answer to the problem: the Sanitation Value Chain – a smart solution for liquid waste management in Addis Ababa.

The Sanitation Situation

Poor sanitation in Addis Ababa, particularly liquid waste, is one of the challenges that affects the life of the residents and dwarfed its image as a capital of Africa. Drainage channels, streams and rivers are carrying grey and black water as a result of illegal connection by households and institutions, which is due to lack of alternatives and poor law enforcement of sewer lines. It will take years before the 100% sewerage connection, envisioned by the city government, will be realized, due to the huge investment needed of current urban planning and construction activities.

With a history of organic development defying all efforts of planning, which in turn resulted in the proliferation of slums estimated to cover more than 80% of the city, Addis Ababa has many competing development agendas that place demands on the scarce resources. In addition, the complexity of planning, design, construction and coordination tasks that slum re-development demands makes things more challenging.

The authorities, particularly the leaders of the mandated organization for water supply and liquid waste management AAWSA (Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority), are worried about the dire sanitation situation. The current efforts of emptying toilets and transporting the contents to treatment facilities in the out skirts of the city is not cost-effective and with shortage of services. The suction trucks subsidized by the government to reach the low income families is overburdened and in quite many cases inaccessible due to narrow walk ways within the slum neighborhoods. The price of the private suction truck companies is beyond the reach of poor slum dwellers.

As a result, the overflowing toilets drain into the closest drainage channels and streams. In the neighborhoods, disposal of domestic waste waters into closed and open drainages and open spaces are all common practice.

Cordaid’s involvement

Cordaid believes that Addis Ababa needs a decentralized and innovative smart sanitation solution that fits the planning context and the needs of residents as a complementary long-term strategy.

Particularly, self sustaining approaches innovated or adopted through participation of the local stakeholders are needed. Urban Matters started a multi-stakeholder process and explores decentralized sanitation options with services (collection, transport, treatment) and value chains (distribution & re-use) with different stakeholders.  That’s why Cordaid has introduced the Sanitation Value Chain.

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Sanitation Value Chain

With the Sanitation Value Chain, Cordaid connects all relevant stakeholders to establish a sustainable market driven chain to provide sanitation services in slums. Collecting, transporting, processing and recycling human waste is a business opportunity. The Sanitation Value Chain consists of different steps. The existence of toilets is essential. Toilets can be provided through a franchising model. The franchiser builds, maintains and exploits the communal or household sanitation facilities. Each facility consists of a toilet unit and a washroom unit. The residents pay for the use of the toilets and washroom units. The toilets need to be emptied; the franchiser pays for the collection and transport of the waste. The waste is delivered by and sold to a waste processor. The waste processor produces organic fertilizer and bio-energy (electricity and gas) which can be sold locally.

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The technical or expert level consultations made with representatives of the concerned government and locally operating NGOs shows acceptance of the strategy. AAWSA made its commitment clear to support technically and financially once the decentralized sanitation option that is appropriate (culturally, technologically etc.).


With this encouraging local situation, Cordaid is currently mobilizing Dutch water and sanitation institutions for technical support and funding to take the initiative forward. With success the Dutch Water Board, World Water Net and Hollandse Delta contributed financially and technically to the first phase of identification mission in Addis Ababa. The sanitation initiative is also integrated to the Lideta Integrated Inner-city Redevelopment Plan (IIRP), being conducted with the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC).

 In relation to this, the federal Ministry of Health has initiated the development of a National Urban Sanitation Strategy for Ethiopia and has formed a consultative working group constituted of INGOs and UN Agencies to manage the development of the strategy. Cordaid joined this initiative through its local employees and it is an opportunity to contribute by sharing its approaches and experiences of urban sanitation in the strategy to be developed.


If you want to receive further information on the Sanitation Value Chain and/or Ethiopia, please contact Teshome Shibru, Programme Manager Ethiopia ([email protected]) or Evert van Walsum, Programme Expert ([email protected]).