Assignment nameDevelopment of a national urban sanitation and hygiene strategy in Ethiopia.

Project duration: November 2014 – June 2016

Funder: UNICEF Ethiopia

The challenge

There is currently no clear distribution of roles related to urban sanitation and hygiene in Ethiopia. Responsibilities are divided and sometimes overlapping between four government ministries: Health, Water, Environment and Urban Development.

Funded by UNICEF and coordinated by the Ministry of Health, this project sought to develop a national Integrated Urban Sanitation and Hygiene Strategy (IUSHS) with Strategy Action Plan -Actions and Strategy Action Plan – Implementation Guidelines for Ethiopia. These instruments provide well-structured and comprehensive policy documents to guide the sector towards achieving national development targets, and in particular for a sustainable sanitation strategy and action plan for all 970 urban areas in Ethiopia.

WSUP approach

We developed the IUSHS and SAP based on the analysis of data from field visits and on extensive consultations with multiple stakeholders. For example ministries and other public organisations, development partners, NGOs, private companies and universities, and all at different levels including local, regional and national/federal.

In developing these national instruments we identified bottlenecks currently contributing to the low level of sanitation services in urban contexts. As a consequence of this we defined changes required in the enabling environment and the required capacity for implementation of the SAP, and identification of standards for infrastructures and service delivery facilities in order to adequately address urban sanitation. It was recognised that Ethiopia requires a ‘radical shift’ in approach if significant strides forward are to be achieved.


Our work with UNICEF contributed to a transformative approach to urban sanitation improvement in Ethiopia. The development of the IUSHS has signalled that urban sanitation improvement is now firmly on the national transformation agenda, and provides the ideal opportunity to step up to a much greater shift in approach.

With the IUSHS as the platform, there is now also the opportunity to address Ethiopia’s institutional arrangements for urban sanitation, which so far have lagged behind what is needed to support a viable urban transition.

UNICEF is currently piloting eight model town WASH projects that are orientated towards long term sustainability. The aim is for the Ethiopian government, with low-profile UNICEF support, to take this forward and create a country-wide urban sanitation strategy and action plan that would fully serve the UNICEF target of children and vulnerable clients.

In addition the IUSHS and SAP, along with other Ethiopian government strategies and action plans, are being incorporated into the One WASH National programme which started in 2014 and runs to 2020 and beyond.