On 7 July 2016, Vitens Evides International celebrated the successful implementation of a EU funded capacity building project in the Oromia region (Ethiopia) with a closing seminar. About 40 managers and experts were invited. The symposium presenters indicated that the project has had great impact over the past four years. The revenue of the beneficiary utilities in Adama and Bishoftu has increased by more than 50% and Non-Revenue Water is reduced by more than 7%, while collection efficiencies rose to 99% and water supply coverage has increased significantly.
The project (officially named ‘Partnership for Capacity Building for Sustainable infrastructure development and Water resource protection in Oromia region, Ethiopia’) was funded by the EU Water Facility Fund. The seminar was opened by his excellence Mr. Asmamaw of the Ministry of Water Irrigation and Electricity. Mr. Asmamaw mentioned that capacity building is crucial for Ethiopian water utilities in order to manage their infrastructure in a sustainable way. He also stressed that water resources must be protected from any contamination and appreciated the consortium partners for the successful implementation of the project.
In the morning, Mr. Wonde Hirpa, VEI project manager, highlighted the main results of the EU capacity building project. A business plan, financial model and management information system were developed for both utilities. As part of the business plans, pro-poor focal persons were assigned by both utilities. These persons have worked out pro-poor investment policies and strategies in close consultation with the GIS experts of the two towns. A VEI HRM expert has given training to a total of 25 management staff from Adama and Bishoftu. They learned about leadership, communication and team building. A new computer network including server was set up, and software for customer service, billing, collection and financial system was introduced. An intensive workshop and pilot work on the GIS was made with both Adama and Bishoftu staff. The best practices of the capacity building project in Adama and Bishoftu are now being replicated to more than 27 utilities in the Oromia region.
In the afternoon, Mrs. Andrea Swenne of Waterschap Vallei & Eem, showed the results of capacity building in the field of water resources monitoring. Together with Oromia Water, Energy and Minerals Bureau and Waterschap Zuiderzeeland, a water quality monitoring network for the upper Awash River was set up. The result of 2 years of monitoring showed many hotspots of water pollution due to industrial and human emissions. The seriousness of the pollution have led to the formation of institutional platform consisting of regional and national authorities that are currently developing an action plan to reduce emissions.