Bringing water and sanitation to urban slums, Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Whilst images of rural poverty in Ethiopia are common in the UK, often less attention is paid to the increasing number of people who live in urban slums.

Amref Health Africa UK, in partnership with Comic Relief, is improving the health of communities living within Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, by improving the access to water and sanitation facilities.
The informal settlements in Yeka and Akaki Sub Cities have high levels of poverty, poor housing and illiteracy. Sanitation is a particular issue. In these areas, 18% of the community do not have access to a latrine, 32% have no access to water and 96% of latrines do not have hand washing facilities. Many women who are in charge of waste disposal in their communities do not have the tools or the knowledge to collect and dispose of waste safely. This leads to the spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid and childhood diarrhoea – one of the leading causes of deaths in under fives. With good sanitation and consistent access to healthy drinking water these conditions are easily preventable.

The Project:

  • Improves access to safe and affordable Water, Sanitation and Hygiene services in Yeka and Akaki. 
  • Increases the use of safe water sources and improve attitudes and practices towards hygiene and sanitation. 
  • Increases the capacity of local water and sanitation Community Health Volunteers and outreach workers. 
  • Gives women greater confidence and skills to look after their communities and a belief in their ability to improve opportunities in life.


Our impact 

  • Direct beneficiaries: 175
  • Indirect beneficiaries: 19,928
  • Health workers trained: 57
  • Women benefitted: 3,100

Case study 

Hand Washing Campaign at Yeka Sub City district

As part of the Amref Health Africa UK and Comic Relief Project, handwashing days have been organised throughout the year to improve awareness in the Addis Ababa slums. These campaigns have been designed to demonstrate and promote proper handwashing, as well as spread the word about the importance of good hygiene and sanitation. The locations for these awareness campaigns were at areas that had a high level of reported cases of Acute Water Diarrhoea – 25 cases per week. 
The Hand Washing Campaign at Yeka Sub City district in June 2016 was a great success. Over a month period, we were able to reach over 6,500 people and after the campaign the number of reported cases of diarrhoea was reduced to just six.

Ethiopia in numbers 

  • Population: 99.4 million
  • Number of doctors per 1000 people: 0.025
  • Maternal mortality rate (per 100,000): 416
  • Under 5s mortality rate (per 1000 live births): 67
  • Unmet need for family planning (among women 15-49): 22.3%

For more information about our work in the slums of Addis Ababa, take a look at this video.