Fitse Gelaye investigated the sanitation landscape in Addis Ababa and found major challenges to sanitation access despite a growing interest in market-based solutions and a government commitment to universal sanitation access.
As a native of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Fitse Gelaye is no stranger to the intermittent public water supply and lack of sanitation facilities. To learn how the community’s sanitation needs and resources have been influenced by rapid population growth, she began her research by meeting with the Addis Ababa Water and Sanitation Authority (AAWSA), international NGOs, and local entrepreneurs. She observed that “despite the commitment of the government to ensure the residents of Addis [Ababa] their rights to water and safe sanitation, the city’s public utility has not been able to keep up with the demands of the ever-expanding city.”
She also found that other service providers and local businesses were beginning to provide pay-to-use toilets to meet the demand for facilities that the AAWSA could not meet. As the urban population skyrockets, there is an opportunity for social enterprises to enter the market and provide safe, affordable sanitation facilities. Fitse recognized that an enterprise approach to meeting this need will have its challenges, namely the cost of purchasing land, removing waste from the site, and pricing the service for both affordability and sustainability. In the end, Fitse identified waste reuse as a possible solution to some of these challenges.