By Kathelyne van den Berg, with contributions by Luuk Diphoorn.

For the second time this year we’ve had the chance to join our MFSII Alliance partners in visiting the countries where they will be active over the coming five years. This time we travelled to Ethiopia, a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It’s one of the few countries in Africa that has never actually been colonised. Just as our previous visit to Uganda and Kenya in May this year, we participated in activities linked to both the WASH and Connect4Change Alliances. For a recap of what we did then, you can take a look at the blogs (Uganda, Uganda 2, Kenya) we wrote up at the time.

Photo: UN vehicles gathering at the parking lot of our hotel in Awash, Afar Region, Ethiopia. Photo by Kathelyne van den Berg.

In May the Alliance activities were still in the very early stages, with the focus on partner selection and discussing initial steps that were to be undertaken. Now, beginning October the selection of partners is as good as finalised, with most contracts between Northern and Southern partners in place. The development of programme plans for 2011 and beginning 2012 is in its final stages. Luuk has written separately about some of the problems we came across and how we helped tackle them. For now, here’s an overview by me of what we did and who we met.

Development Education Centre – Connect4Change

We kicked-off our week with meetings with the main local partners for Connect4Change in Ethiopia: the Development Education Center (DEC) and Facilitators for Change (FC). The DEC acts as the local frontline office of Edukans being responsible for the education focus area, while FC is ICCO’s main partner in Ethiopia with a focus on economic development.

Aniley Amentie, who is acting director of the DEC, explained that for him it was confusing having to work with so many various actors. He also felt that at times there was still a lack of clarity over who was responsible for what. For him Akvo was just another new partner. After we had the opportunity to present our role and activities in the alliance, all was much clearer. He even suggested that the use of Akvo RSR by all partners could help in the overall communication in the program between Northern and Southern partners. The meeting with DEC in particular proved to be an eye-opener for us. Luuk got the chance to do a video interview Etefa Merga, the coordinator within DEC for C4C.

Visiting two school projects

I joined a field visit together with Olaf Erz (IICD), Etefa Merga (DEC), Seble Lemma (ICE-Ethiopia) and Seleshi Legass (IWCIDA). To get an idea of the schools that will be involved in the C4C education programme here in Ethiopia we visited two primary schools, one in Solulta and one in Chancho, Oromiya region. You can read more in an RSR project update by Etafe Merga here.

Libraryethiopiaopti

Library in Primary school in Chancho, Ethiopia.

We’ve been able to draft both C4C programs in Ethiopia online. We still need to discuss with the partners to get the necessary adjustments in place so that we can finalise the programmes soon. The DEC education programme can be viewed here and the Facilitator for Change Economic Development program here.

WASH Alliance Ethiopia Workshop

There was a 3-day workshop with the members of the WASH Alliance Ethiopia taking place in Addis Ababa. We joined for a day on Tuesday, 20 September. There were eleven organisations in the room:

The WASH Alliance members in Ethiopia: HCS-Ripple, Meta Meta, Hoarec, WaterAID, AMREF Ethiopia, GTF, and AFD.

The Dutch WASH Alliance members: AMREF, RAIN, ICCO, Akvo

The Dutch WASH Alliance has developed somewhat of a unique approach. In the Netherlands partners are tasked with joining forces to tackle water and sanitation, and it is expected of local partners in the countries where activities take place to do the same. Just as this process of ‘Alliance building’ was complex and time-consuming in the Netherlands, the same is the case here in Ethiopia. It became apparent that not all the contracts were in place yet between the Northern and Southern partners, although discussions had been taking place all year. Some parties were therefore reluctant to start planning for activities while these issues were still not sorted out. While on paper working together with various organisations seems straightforward, in reality it is very challenging.

During the coffee break in the morning Luuk shot a short video interview with Zemede Abede, which he then showed to the group during the afternoon presentation. This proved to be an excellent example of how one can do Really Simple Reporting (RSR) right there in front of everyone. We also got the chance to welcome Tamene Chaka as the new Country Coordinator for the WASH Alliance in Ethiopia.

Visiting Awash

After the workshop we joined in a field visit to Awash, one of the two areas in Ethiopia where the WASH Alliance will be active in the coming years. The trip was organised by AMREF Ethiopia. In the video below you can see Joris van Oppenraaij, from AMREF Netherlands and country coordinator for Ethiopia talks about his views on the week. There was a lot of wind, so the audio isn’t great, so do be forgiving (it’s better on speakers than headphones).

Pictures from our trip by me can be seen here on Flickr and on Luuk’s Flickr accounts.

Kathelyne van den Berg is programme manager for Connect4Change at Akvo.