Increasing Access to Safe Drinking Water in Ethiopia

By Luis Ahumada and Guillermina Sutter Schneider

1. Sources used for drinking water

Sources are classified as improved and unimproved. Improved sources are piped water from any location, tube wells or boreholes, protected dug wells, protected springs, rain water, bottled water, and water delivered by tanker truck or cart. 66 percent of the Ethiopian population uses drinking water from improved sources, with distribution varying by regions. Almost all households in Addis Ababa and 72 percent in Tigray reported using improved sources.

FIGURE 1 — Improved Drinking Water Source by Region, Percent of Population

Unimproved sources are water collected from unprotected dug wells, unprotected springs, and surface water.

FIGURE 2 — Unimproved Drinking Water Source by Region, Percent of Population

2. Accesibility

Accessibility is measured by the time taken to collect water. Nationally, 74 percent of the population reported taking 30 minutes or less to collect drinking water; 19 percent use a source located on the premises. Rural residents spend more time than urban residents in collecting water. Time taken is less for predominantly urban regions or those with a large proportion of improved sources. For example, in Addis Ababa, 97 percent of the population have on-premises drinking water sources.

FIGURE 3: Time Taken to Collect Drinking Water by Region, Percent of Population

3. Availability

Availability and sufficiency were higher in rural areas and for unimproved sources. Piped water supplies were less available and less sufficient, as were kiosks and water delivered by small carts. Availability and sufficiency were similar in all regions except for Addis Ababa, where sufficiency was low (52 percent) and availability lower (30 percent).

FIGURE 4: Suffiency and Availability of Water by Region, Percent of Population

4. Quality

Nationally, 14 percent of the population gets water from low-risk sources (no detectable E. coli in a 100 mL sample). On the other hand, in Addis Ababa 85 percent of the on-premise piped water is low-risk.

FIGURE 5: E. coli Risk at the Source and in the Household by Region, Percent of Population