Role of private operators

Private operators and service providers are also frontline workers who play a key role in making WASH services accessible to communities.

Private suppliers may supply WASH-related products such as soaps, sanitary pads and household water treatment chemicals or sachets such as Bishan Gari and Wuha Agar.

Privately hired technicians may provide maintenance services for water distribution systems, mainly in household connections and related plumbing tasks. In smaller towns, they also provide minor operation and maintenance of the water supply system, for example they may be called in to repair electromechanical components.

Micro- and small enterprises (MSEs) are increasingly participating in the WASH sector (see Study Session 3). Many towns in Ethiopia use the services of MSEs to collect solid waste from households and transport it to a centralised collection site or sometimes to final disposal sites.

In some towns, the service by MSEs has grown to include septic sludge emptying using vacuum trucks (Figure 7.4).

Figure 7.4 A tanker pumping out sludge from a septic tank.

Others are selling items for household use (Figure 7.5), or producing and selling pre-cast concrete slabs for use in household latrines (Figure 7.6).

Figure 7.5 Selling jerrycans as a small business enterprise.

Figure 7.6 Young men producing concrete slabs for use in household latrines, as part of a youth employment scheme in Gambela Region.

The number of private operators is growing, although they currently provide only a small proportion of WASH services. Organised groups are managing public WASH facilities, such as public showers and latrines, which have been constructed by NGOs or other development partners. Other private operators include water vendors (Figure 7.7) and informal waste collectors like the cart that you saw in Figure 3.1 in Study Session 3.

Figure 7.7 Informal water sellers in Hawassa.

Private sector participation is still developing in Ethiopia. Urban settings and their communities provide a number of opportunities for entrepreneurs. The government of Ethiopia encourages private sector initiatives and provides start-up support to promote improved service delivery. Government partners are also investigating innovative approaches and best practices from other countries, to accelerate private sector participation in the WASH sector.

With time, urban communities will benefit more from services provided by the private sector, as the public sector shifts its focus to regulation of the services.

Which frontline workers play the following roles?

  • Work below HEWs at neighbourhood and family levels through a participatory process including action-orientated meetings.
  • Management of public WASH facilities.

Show answer

The answers are as follows:

  • HDA members work below HEWs at neighbourhood and family levels.
  • Private operators usually manage public WASH facilities.

Last modified: Friday, 29 July 2016, 10:06 AM