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The African Development Fund’s Board of Directors, during their session in Abidjan on 28 February 2024, agreed to allocate $46.02 million in aid to Ethiopia. 

This funding aims to support the second phase of the Borana Resilient Water Development for Improved Livelihoods Program in the southern part of the nation.

The allocation, sourced from the African Development Bank Group’s concessional loan facility, seeks to enhance the provision of sustainable, climate-resilient, and gender-inclusive water supply and sanitation solutions for pastoral communities in the Borana zone of the Oromia region.

With Borana’s population estimated at 1.2 million, half of whom are women, and expected to rise to 1.8 million by 2030, the majority of the inhabitants depend on pastoralism. They face challenges from inconsistent rainfall and recurrent droughts, leading to water scarcity. 

As of March 2023, the region has seen the loss of over 3.3 million livestock due to drought, impacting over 67,000 families’ livelihoods. Climate change effects, such as reduced water and pasture availability, often heighten land and water resource conflicts.

Dr Beth Dunford, the Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, said, “This is a peace-building program in an environment where the extremes of climate change are increasingly manifesting, millions of livestock are lost, and conflicts are increasing among pastoralist due to limited pastures and water supply.”

The fund from the African Development Fund will primarily finance the construction and enhancement of water production and transportation infrastructures across 85 kilometres, including 9 reservoirs and 142.6 kilometres of distribution networks. 

This expansion will provide 36,000 new users with potable water access. Additionally, 99 livestock watering points will be established for about 109,000 animals. The program also covers land acquisitions, construction supervision, and efforts to mitigate climate-related risks in delivering multifunctional water supply and sanitation services. 

It aims to bolster local WASH management capabilities to maintain the new facilities.

Osward Chanda, the Water Development and Sanitation Director at the African Development Bank Group, stated, “This program responds to the critical challenge of rising water demand in Borana region and intends to mitigate the effects of drought, supporting solutions such as the development of key water infrastructure, institutional capacity building, and enhancing service delivery for sustainable and climate-resilient water provisional capacities, and improve service delivery for enduring, climate-adaptable water solutions.”

The initiative will also upgrade sanitation facilities in educational and health institutions, construct public lavatories, conduct hygiene promotion campaigns, and offer guidance on water service regulation at regional and district levels. A rural water utility will be established to set user-informed tariffs for maintaining the new systems.

Furthermore, the program aims to fortify catchment management frameworks resilient to climate change, enact adaptive measures for ecosystems, landscapes, and sustainable livelihoods, and introduce efficient water management practices.

The primary beneficiaries of this program are rural and semi-urban communities in Borana, predominantly pastoralists and lower-income families, especially women and youth. 

Approximately 35,816 individuals will gain access to water services, and around 21,000 people will have improved sanitation facilities, with women making up at least half of these groups.