Accessible toilets to Ethiopia with Finland’s support

Finland is supporting the COWASH project in Ethiopia to improve access to safe water supply, sanitation and hygiene. In recent years, the development cooperation project has focused especially on creating accessible toilets and washing facilities.

According to Ambassador of Finland to Addis Ababa Outi Holopainen, clean water and hygiene have been of key importance in stifling the COVID-19 pandemic in Eastern Africa. Improving hygiene and sanitation facilities is one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

There has been much demand for Finland’s water and sanitation projects in a country as poor as Ethiopia. “Ethiopia has a very large area and an extremely poor standard of living. You can see it along the roads where people relieve themselves when there is no access to public toilets,” says Holopainen.

The Ethiopian health authorities have estimated that about one third of all Ethiopians are still without access to proper toilets and washing facilities. Slum residents in the capital city can often only use dirty and poorly accessible public toilets that are sometimes subject to a charge.

Finland has helped build school toilets that give modern sanitation facilities to nearly 290,000 school children in rural areas.

“People with disabilities, too, benefit from the new toilets, as about one third of the new toilets and washing facilities in schools are accessible. Even children using a wheelchair or crutches can use them,” says Meaza Kebede, a gender and inclusion specialist working in the COWASH project.

Kebede says that local communities in rural Ethiopia are being trained to ensure the proper functioning of their water points and toilets.