COWASH IV, a project dedicated to improving water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in rural Ethiopia, recently took a significant step towards inclusive development by providing  comprehensive training on gender and disability mainstreaming and analysis to its team members.

Led by the Africa School of Project Management, the training took place from January 22-25 in Nairobi, Kenya. The four-day program equipped seven specialists from COWASH IV’s federal technical assistance team and project regions with crucial knowledge and skills to champion inclusivity in their work.

Imagine WASH services designed with an understanding of gender dynamics, ensuring equal access for women and girls. This was brought to life through the training’s deep dive into gender mainstreaming, providing participants with practical approaches to integrate gender considerations into project planning, implementation, and monitoring. They learned to navigate the nuances of local contexts, ensuring no one is left behind in the quest for WASH improvements.

But inclusivity extends beyond gender. The training honed participants’ skills in analyzing the specific needs and challenges faced by people with disabilities. Equipped with frameworks for in-depth gender analysis, they can now tailor interventions that leave no one behind, ensuring WASH services are truly accessible and impactful for all.

The training also empowered participants to champion the rights and needs of women and people with disabilities within communities and at institutional levels. They learned to amplify voices, build awareness and advocate for inclusive policies that ensure everyone has a say and equitable access to WASH resources.

Melkamu Gemeda, a Capacity Building Specialist from Benishangul-Gumuz, remarked, “this training equipped us with crucial tools like gender analysis matrices, invaluable for our work with rural communities. We can now design WASH services that truly meet everyone’s needs.”

Berhan Woldegebriel, a Gender and Disability Inclusion Specialist, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the training’s significance for regional teams. “It’s a game-changer for our work,” she stated, “and must continue for the remaining staff to ensure everyone has the expertise to champion inclusivity.”

Beyond the classroom, the program fostered a spirit of collaboration through activities like a visit to Nairobi National Park. This holistic approach reflects COWASH IV’s dedication to building capacity across its entire staff, ensuring everyone has the tools and knowledge required to create a future where everyone thrives, regardless of gender, disability, or any other factor.

This training marks the first overseas program provided by COWASH IV in 2024, with four more planned in various project focus areas throughout the coming months. This continued investment in staff development demonstrates COWASH IV’s unwavering commitment to building an inclusive future where everyone in Ethiopia has access to life-changing WASH services.