Ethiopian Red Cross Association (ERCS) Illu Aba Bor branch is one of the 7 ERCS branches who implemented Skybird micro projects in Ethiopia in Skybird cycle 2 program implementation period from November 1st 2021 till October 31st 2022.

ERCS Illu Aba Bor Branch Skybird micro project is entitled “Improving WASH and Livelihood Conditions of Gadisa Oda and Sedo Kebeles in Mettu District of Illu Abab Bora Zone” and one of its components is: Improving community health through construction and rehabilitation of public latrines.

A team from Austrian Red Cross (AutRC) and ERCS conducted a learning documentation visit on July 07, 2023 to ERCS Illu Aba Bor Branch and the micro project site, and talked to the beneficiaries. The learnings and challenges from implementing the micro project are presented below.

Improving community health through construction and rehabilitation of public latrines.

Mettu is the capital city of Illu Aba Bor zone located 550 km to the south-west of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Around 30,000 people live in Mettu town. Access to sanitation in places outside a household was a challenge for people in Mettu town as there are no public toilet facilities, after two public toilets in the town became non-operational after providing toilet and shower services for years.

ERCS Illu Aba Bor branch Skybird micro project addressed this issue by constructing one public toilet and rehabilitating an existing public toilet.

1. New public toilet constructed in Mettu town

One new public latrine having 4 toilet and   4 shower rooms and 1 mini shop is constructed in Mettu town through the Skybird programme and inaugurated in November 2022. One toilet has accessible features for people with physical disabilities.

An SME with 5 members (unemployed youths) is established and the facility handed over to them. It has been 8 months since the SME is operational and the SME members are generating income from the shower and toilet service, and from the mini shops that is constructed next to the facility.

Desalegn Jesho is chairperson of the SME. He said “Our enterprise has 5 members. Currently we are providing toilet and shower service to the public. This area was used to dump garbage and no one want to come here due to the smell. Now Red Cross constructed this public toilet and the area has changed. The community is using the facility and they have benefited from the service.

Amanuel Kenesa, a person with disability, is one of the users of the public toilet.  He said “I am very happy that I am using the facility as one of the toilet rooms here has features to better accommodate people with physical disabilities. I want to say thank you to Red Cross. The facility has also created opportunity for the youth. It also helps to keep our area clean.”

2. Rehabilitation of an existing public toilet in Mettu town.

There is a public toilet in Mettu town that was built 15 years ago by ERCS Illu Aba Bor branch with support from British Red Cross. It was then handed over to the town municipality to manage it.  It was providing service for years till it was closed in 2018 because of lack of maintenance. The septic tank was full and needed desludging.

Through the Skybird micro project, the public latrine is now maintained. The septic tank is emptied. Ramps are constructed to enable wheelchair users to access the toilet and shower facilities. One mini shop is also constructed next to it. It is inaugurated in November 2022. An enterprise with 5 members is established to manage the facility and the public toilet is now operational.

Aynalem Berhanu, who is member of the SME, said “I want to thank Ethiopian Red Cross Illu Aba Bor branch. They have put a lot of effort to create job for us. After we start the job, they were coming to visit us and encouraging us.”

Tigist Ayala, also member of the SME, said “I am very happy that the project is implemented here by Ethiopia Red Cross Illu Aba Bor branch. I was unemployed. Now we have grouped ourselves and established an enterprise and we are running the facility, providing toilet and shower service to the community. I strongly believe that we will continue to provide good service. I want to thank Red Cross for clearing the area that was full of garbage, maintaining the public latrine and making it operational. We also received this feedback from the public toilet users. I want you to continue visiting and supporting us. Thank you very much.”

Training provided to members of the SMEs

A 2-day training on entrepreneurship was provided to members of the SMEs to support their business activities and for the sustainability of the public toilets.