Happy households in Ethiopia – Water filters purchased through local water utility

Note the big smile on the face of the lady who works at Ms. Salam’s restaurant as
she offers customers at her restaurant safe drinking water

Finote Selam, Ethiopia

In November 2016, Aqua for All launched a pilot to promote and distribute household water filters through existing water suppliers in Ethiopia. Finote Selam was the first town to adopt this approach. Currently a mid-term survey is being conducted among the first 80 households to have purchased one of the several models of filters available: a Sawyer filter, a Tulip Siphon filter or a Tulip Table Top filter. The results of this survey will provide insight on client satisfaction concerning the promotion, payment and after sales services now offered by the utility. The pros and cons of each of the three products will be measured as well as the consistency of use and the effect of using the filter on health and other domains.

‘We started to promote and sell water filters because the health of the people is our mandate’, says Utility Manager Ato Leyew during a lunch with the Mayor of Finote Selam, Amhara Region and Aqua for All. ‘Finote Selam is a fast growing city, and we have many people on the waiting list to receive drinking water. This takes time, so we want to offer them an intermediate solution to enable them to treat raw water at home. At the same time, we have evidence that the water we deliver as utility does not always meet the required quality standards, in spite of all our efforts. Therefore we also promote water filters amongst our existing clients’.

Mr. Tibebu, Mayor of Finote Selam, Mr. Leyew, Utility Manager and Mr. Gashaye Chekol,
Aqua for All consultant, during a business lunch at the restaurant of board member Ms. Salam

Mr. Molla, Head of the Amhara Regional Water Bureau  which oversees the entire Amhara Region with over a hundred towns  is also very positive about the approach adopted by Finote Selam and the first results it shows: ‘We want every health centre  in the Amhara Region to buy a water filter’, Mr. Molla says. ‘Now is the time for the Health Bureaus to reserve funds for this. Then people can take the medicines they have been prescribed with safe water. Also, there should be information available in all local languages and telephone numbers of the sales agents.’ Other local utilities have shown interest in adopting the same approach, an indication that we’re onto something! Of course Aqua for All will follow up on these requests for support.

In a recent meeting  representative Waltegi Terfa of the World Health Organisation (WHO) urged Aqua for All  to share the findings of this pilot (including the costs of physical filters per person per year)  at national level, aligning it to the ‘Safety from source to tap’ policy (turning it into ‘Safety from source to cup’)  and to the global SDG perspective. You can count on it!