COWASH IV held its first knowledge sharing workshop from November 6 to 9 in Hawassa, Ethiopia. The workshop brought together around 50 participants, including COWASH federal technical assistance team (FTAT) and Regional Support Units (RSU) staff, as well as representatives from the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance, the Embassy of Finland in Ethiopia, Visionfund Microfinance Institution and other stakeholders.

The workshop provided a forum for participants to discuss best practices from each region and the latest trends in the WASH sector. RSUs presented case studies on best practices and innovative approaches to improving WASH services, including using community-led management to ensure the sustainability of WASH projects and working with local businesses to develop affordable WASH technologies. Speakers also shared their knowledge on WASH financing, Ethiopian finance policy, Finland’s policy on development cooperation, climate change, communications and assembling an Afridev hand-pump.

The knowledge sharing workshop was a valuable opportunity for RSUs and other partners to learn from each other. It also helped to raise the spirit of collaboration among the COWASH IV RSUs. Tilahun Abebe, a COWASH Finance Specialist from the Benishangul Gumuz Region, said,

“I’m grateful to COWASH IV for hosting this event. It was a valuable opportunity for RSUs to come together and share knowledge. I’m confident that the information and insights we gained from the event will help us to improve our impact and serve our communities more effectively.”

The Tigray RSU team, which joined COWASH IV on June 2023 after a peace agreement ended a two-year conflict in the region, found the workshop particularly valuable for them. The team leader, Deslaegn Kiros, said that the workshop gave them the chance to meet other RSU staff and learn from their experiences. He also appreciated the workshop as a form of encouragement from COWASH IV to his staff after a difficult two years.

Participants also found the workshop to be informative and inspiring. Mulatu Ferede, a capacity building specialist from the Amhara COWASH IV RSU team, said that he particularly learned a lot about the latest trends in WASH financing from Hzekiel Aynalem, a Senior Partnership & WASH Specialist at Visionfund Ethiopia. Hzekiel discussed existing WASH financing from his institution and introduced the RSU staff to available means to finance WASH activities in their regions. Participants also got a chance to learn from the experience of Michael Wood, a COWASH IV short-term consultant in the area of Institutional WASH, who shared his knowledge on how to assemble up handpumps.

Participants at the workshop networked and shared experiences about how to overcome common challenges such as financing WASH activities in remote areas and promoting menstrual hygiene management. Abiyot Sinebo, representative of the Central Ethiopia RSU team, said,

“The workshop was a great opportunity to network with other RSUs and learn from their experiences. I was particularly impressed by the South West Ethiopia RSU. They are doing significant work despite various challenges, including topography.”

Berhane Tola, gender and disability inclusion and public participation specialist from the Oromia RSU team also said that the workshop gave her a chance to meet and network with other RSU staff.

Overall, the COWASH IV Regional Support Unit Knowledge Sharing Workshop was a successful event that provided RSUs and other partners with an opportunity to learn from each other, share best practices, and strengthen collaboration.