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Leading the cause for WASH

Building a sanitation market in Ethiopia


Although progress has been made toward reducing open defecation in rural Ethiopia (from nearly 100 percent practicing open defecation in 1990 to 29 percent in 2015), Ethiopia still has a larger rural population practicing open defecation (more than 28 million) than any other country in Sub-Saharan Africa. Access to clean drinking water is limited and improved hygiene behaviors are not widely practiced.

iDE Hero Ethiopia Leading the Cause

Children under five years old are the most vulnerable to the effects of poor sanitation, resulting in high incidences of death from waterborne diseases. (Photo by David Graham/iDE)

Market pioneers

iDE builds markets for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in Ethiopia because of the importance of clean water supply and improved sanitation to the health and productivity of Ethiopians. To this end, iDE has adapted our agricultural water technologies to make them suitable for drinking water. In addition, we are reaching households with improved sanitation sustainably and at scale by connecting consumers with products they want and can afford. The Ethiopia Water and Sanitation Program is being implemented by iDE—with support from UNICEF, USAID, the Vitol Foundation, the Headley Trust Foundation, and the Waterloo Foundation—to benefit rural households with WASH products and services, thereby improving their health and livelihoods.

Market-based approaches are new to the sanitation and hygiene sector in Ethiopia. Through pilot and scale-up projects, iDE has been able to test whether market-based approaches are applicable and relevant to building sustainable delivery of these services to Ethiopian households. Through this work, iDE has gained a reputation as a leader in sanitation marketing in Ethiopia.

Market Opportunity

Households are tired of using unhygienic pit latrines and are willing to invest in an improved product. Given the large market size of Ethiopia, there is a strong case for latrine businesses and sales agents to stay motivated. They know that if they invest in the sanitation business, they will have lots of potential customers who can help their business grow.

iDE PC Ethiopia Leading the Cause

Development at work

iDE is building local capacity for sustainable supply, installation, and maintenance of household water technologies and sanitation products. For example, iDE partners with regional technical and vocational schools to use their facilities to train local manufacturers, manual well-drillers, installers, and village mechanics. This not only increases the capability of these market players to support sanitation efforts, it also helps to build the technical schools’ ability to train more pump manufacturers and service providers in the future. Additionally, iDE helps to establish quality control systems and recruit retailers.

iDE organizes demonstrations in farmers’ fields, in schools, and health centers to promote new products and practices, building awareness and catalyzing communities’ behavior change. Promotional materials are distributed at these demonstrations and through Community Marketing Agents, who are trained by iDE. These tools and methods have been shown to convince rural communities to invest in and use products and services that will improve hygiene and sanitation practices

A boy tries out the product at a sales meeting. Favorite features of the product among users include the slanted footpads for easy drainage, and the keyhole design for convenient use.

Building momentum

  • By 2017, more than 11,000 people in Ethiopia will benefit from WASH products and services, thereby improving their health and livelihoods. 
  • In particular, women and children will benefit from easy access to quality WASH products and services. 
  • People engaged in the WASH product supply chain will benefit from increased employment opportunities and income. 
  • More importantly, by creating market conditions that independently meet sanitation needs, iDE has blazed a trail for the future delivery of sanitation products that will make open defecation in Ethiopia a thing of the past.

Read More

Every family deserves a toilet

For the 40 percent of the people on the planet who do not have a toilet, acquiring one would mean keeping your one-year-old child from developing diarrhea and possibly dying from it.


Read more: Building markets for sanitation