Ethiopia in November 2019: workshop and study visits in Amhara Region

The SSA team traveled back to Ethiopia again! Between November 3rd and November 19th, the delegation consisted of Torbjörn Lahti (Chairman of SSA), Mikael Brändström (senior consultant in sustainability), Adane Negash (country director) and Clarisse Veaux (intern), visited the Amhara region and conducted a regional workshop. It was also the opportunity to visit the four eco-municipalities of the region partners of the pilot-project: Bahir Dar, Gondar, Lalibela and Woldiya.

Regional workshop in Bahir Dar

The delegation started its trip in Bahir Dar, capital of the Amhara region. This city of over 200 000 inhabitants is located in the border of Lake Tana that makes the city an attractive touristic place. Fast growing urbanization, pollution of the lake and waste management are some of the challenges that faces the city today and that will be addressed through the implementation of the Eco-municipality concept. On Monday, 4th and Tuesday, 5th, politicians, civil servants and academic staff from each Eco-municipality of the region together with regional authorities came to Bahir Dar to attend to the regional workshop.

Expectations of the participants for the workshop: sharing of experiences and knowledges about urban greening and planning, waste management and eco-tourism and discussing about the gender equality was the main expectations.

This two-days’ workshop was divided in two aspects: on the one hand, the delegation made presentations about the Eco-municipality concept, waste management and ecofeminism, on the other hand, the methodology of back-casting was explained and practiced during group works. The main objective of this workshop was to give tools to the participants to let them find how to make their cities sustainable. Swedish examples regarding waste management were presented, but the SSA team insisted on the fact that the participants had to find their own solutions of the conditions they face.  The Swedish example shows that the change is possible but there are different ways to do it! The other thematic areas were also presented and discussed: green areas, capacity building and eco-tourism.

The second day was more focus on the methodology of back-casting. Group works were made by each city following each step of the methodology. The first step focused on the vision for the city at the year 2069. In the presentation of the vision the participants expressed cities that have managed to:

  • encourage the development of the touristic activities by making the cities cleaner and greener and taking care of the cultural heritage,
  • reinforce the participatory democracy in the decision process and solve the conflicts in the society through a tolerance methodology,
  • implement gender equality by a higher participation of women in all perspectives,
  • work to reach a zero-waste society,
  • raise awareness about natural resources limits.

The next steps of the back-casting were to do an inventory of the challenges that the cities meet today and from that trying to find creative strategic solutions to reach their vision by solving the challenges. Participants and organizers were very glad of the fruitful outcomes of the workshop and the municipalities engaged themselves to continue the collaboration in the future.

Bahir Dar, follow-up day

The day after in Bahir Dar, the SSA/SSDE delegation meet civil servants of the municipality to do study visits. They started by the visits of different green areas implemented and maintained by the municipality.

Even if these areas are attractive for tourists’ purposes, some issues still exist as the lack of sanitation facilities, lack of budget to finish the design plans or the shortage of garbage bins. After that the delegation visited the landfill of the city. Compost facility and start of a sorting system were implement recently.

However, the working conditions for the workers at the landfill are still poor and functioning source sorting in households does not exist. During the afternoon a recap session of the workshop was held with the municipality of Bahir Dar. It was an opportunity to discuss the issues of the regional workshop. Also, the SSA/SSDE delegation meet the regional representative of the ministry of urban development: fruitful discussion for the future collaboration!

Gondar, follow-up day

On Thursday 7th, the delegation travel to Gondar where they started by the visit of the city’s landfill. They have many challenges like sorting of organic and non-organic waste, lack of machinery to move and compress waste and also illegal sorting of plastic. However, improvement is in progress with a new compost facility that is under construction. The recap session of the workshop was also the opportunity to meet the mayor and the vice-mayor of Gondar and discuss about the following projects for the next year. At the end of the day the delegation also had the opportunity to discover a part of the historical heritage of the city by visiting the castle of Gondar and other beautiful sites!

Lalibela, follow-up day

The next city visited was Lalibela, known as the biggest Christian place of Africa with eleven churches carved in the stone. After meeting the civil servants of the municipality, we visited the landfill. Lalibela landfill is the most structured one that we saw during this trip, but many challenges prevent them from doing an easy and sustainable management. The biggest challenge concerns the access road to the landfill. It is in really bad conditions and during the rainy season it cannot be used during three months of the year. The landfill also includes a liquid waste management system with different compartments, but it cannot be used properly due to lack of maintenance. Also, its localization (near to a river) increases the risk of water pollution.

The following recap session with the participants of the regional workshop and the mayor was fruitful and opened to a future collaboration.

“Before the project came here, the people already asking answers to these issues. This project is like an answer, so the project has a chance to be support by the community in the future. We need to implement this project to let the people see the impact of it. I trust your project.”, words said by Mr. Mulugeta Micheal, mayor of Lalibela.


Woldiya, follow-up day

The last Eco-municipality that we visit in the Amhara region is Woldiya. Here, we also visited the landfill which had a newly constructed facility for liquid waste treatment. No collecting system in the household, no sorting of the waste and illegal landfill are the biggest issues that the municipality faces today.

To address these challenges will be one of the main objectives that Woldyia will include in the program. The relationship between the University and the municipality is a strength for the city and for the Eco-municipality project. In addition to that many other stakeholders shows strong motivation to take part to the project.

Addis Ababa

The last part of the trip took place in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. This time was dedicated for meetings with the financial and national partners of the project: Swedish embassy, United Nations Habitat and the Minister of Urban Development.

In Addis, the SSA team also met the regional representative of the ministry of urban development in the Oromia region to discuss the coming regional application.

Furthermore, the time in Addis gave the opportunity to talk about the activities plan for the next years with the SSDE team that is working with SSA directly from Ethiopia.

This two-weeks-trip was interesting and promising for the future of the project. Now the SSA team is back in Sweden to continue the work and to prepare the next activities in the project. Big things are coming!