Being in the very essence of working in the Multi-Stakeholders Approach, it was during the harmonisation meeting at the beginning of March 2012 that the Ethiopia WASH Alliance (EWA) partners agreed on having a learning visit on identified thematic areas.
It was Monday (7 March) we have left Addis early in the morning to escape the traffic jam and reach early the 525 km drive to Dire Dawa, where the hosts for this exchange visit (RiPPLE and HCS) were waiting for us to share what they have to other alliance members. The interesting part of the drive from Addis to Dire Dawa is the crossing of different agro-ecologies; the great rift valley and chain of mountains where sometime you make snake kind of drives.
RiPPLE was represented by Eskinder, dedicated to share the lessons to the team, and Zelalem. HCS was represented by Tewodros who was implementing the projects as site engineer.
On the next day, after a brief explanation about the sites to be visited, we went to the site where the municipality of Dire Dawa disposes the city waste and processes it for usable form for urban agriculture. And later during the day the different youth groups in the town using liquid waste and other waste for productive purposes i.e. growing fruits and vegetables in the city and making some money out of it.
The other day we have visited different sand and sub-surface dams where these rain water harvesting structures are used for multiple purposes (water supply for drinking, agriculture as irrigation, drinking for animals).
It was inspiring to the visiting team having made different rain water harvesting structures, urban waste management and urban agriculture related activities being implemented by the RiPPLE & HCS. The key lessons learned includes but not limited to increasing understanding the importance of the technologies in areas where water is scarce and the multiple uses of these structure that increase the value of money invested on the structures and related capacity building activities to beneficiaries/users.
Moreover, the team has learned how waste can be changed in to resources and can be a means for generating income and create jobs in the cities and suburb around the cities. In the areas the team has visited stakeholders coordination is fundamental for the success of suck kinds of projects which are cross cutting in terms of involving different sectors. One group which was exciting was a women group – Goreba Social and Environmental Protection Civil Association Group Members- composed of 54 women members out of its 60 members. They are growing fruits & vegetables, started preparing compost to which they have a strong vision and an interesting part is that they have made afforestation on the hill behind them.
As the objective of the visit was to share experience and lessons EWA partners has and building the alliance further; it was very helpful to the activities that EWA are implementing in their projects. It is well coordinated and the hosts (RiPPLE and HCS) did their level best to share the experience and knowledge they have. The visit also created a better opportunity in getting to know each other more that contributes a lot in alliance building process of EWA.
Tamene Chaka is Country Coordinator of the Ethiopia WASH Alliance