Adapted from remarks at NBI 20th Anniversary/Regional Nile Day 2019 Celebrations
Today, Ministers of Water Resources of the Nile riparian countries, officials, and development partners are gathering in Kigali, Rwanda to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), which coincides with the annual Nile Day celebrations for one of the most important rivers of the globe.
This year’s theme is “Stronger Together” – a theme that not only celebrates 20 years of cooperation but also summarizes how we can achieve a better future for all.
Cities are growing at unprecedented rates, with over two thirds of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050 (UN DESA 2018), and city governments struggle to keep up with the increasing demand for urban services, including sanitation. This unplanned growth and the resulting dense informal housing hinder the provision of such services. Burgeoning informal settlements are characterized by poor political representation and challenging physical and topographical conditions, such as inaccessibility, rocky soil, high water tables and periodic flooding, which make the provision of basic services especially difficult. Cities require sanitation approaches for such settings which can complement, or precede the arrival of, traditional sewers and conventional on-site solutions, and thus contribute to the realization of the sanitation-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This thinking underpins the core principles of Citywide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS) – encouraging cities to think about a diversity of technical solutions that provide services along the whole sanitation service chain, combining different approaches to better respond to the challenging realities faced by cities.
With a population exceeding 3 million, only 10% of Addis residents are connected to the sewerage system and an estimated 10% continue to practice open defecation. As a result, in 2007 the Addis Ababa Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (AAWSA) began a pilot to build approximately 200 shared sanitation facilities. After the pilot’s success, AAWSA took the next bold step of aiming to build 3,000 shared sanitation facilities, more than 600 of which have been successfully completed since 2016. These shared sanitation facilities include public facilities serving high-traffic urban areas and communal latrines shared between clusters of households in low-income communities.
Although the utility AAWSA has over a decade of experience in designing and implementing public and communal latrines, the learning continues as they maintain an adaptive learning mindset and as they integrate innovation in this aspect of their work. Below we present some key learnings from their decade’s journey of providing improved sanitation services for the population of Addis.