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Supporting access to clean water and sanitation for all

22 March 2019

Group photo of attendees at Count Me In launch event

A free resource to raise awareness of how significant sections of society can be excluded from developments in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), has been created WaterAid Ethiopia and The Open University in partnership.

Count me in! Inclusive WASH in Ethiopia suggests ways to make WASH services accessible for all, focusing in particular on the needs of women and girls and disabled people.

It is the latest module in The Open University’s OpenWASH series, which provides free training resources for people working in the WASH sector in Ethiopia, and can be used in print or online. 

Lack of access to clean water and basic toilet facilities is a major cause of preventable diseases in many developing countries, killing more than 800 children worldwide every day.

The original OpenWASH series of modules was developed to support the Ethiopian government’s One WASH National Programme, which aims to ensure access to water and sanitation services throughout the country.

Count me in! breaks new ground by focusing on how inclusion – in particular gender equality and disabled access – can be incorporated when safe drinking water, access to a toilet/latrine and handwashing facilities are being developed.

The OU academic responsible for the OpenWASH series is Pam Furniss, Environmental Systems Senior Lecturer in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) faculty, who is working with the university’s International Development Office. She says:

“We created the five original OpenWASH modules with UNICEF and WorldVision in Ethiopia. WaterAid saw them, really liked them and said ‘can you work with us to do one on equality and inclusion, and we will fund it’.

Count me in! fills a gap. Although ‘access for all’ is a major part of Ethiopian government policy, there has been very little to support people putting this into practice.”

She said the module, which was launched at a special event in Addis Ababa in January, has been very well received and is likely to be used in a wide range of training contexts.

It has also paved the way for an ongoing relationship between the OU’s International Development Office (IDO) and WaterAid, says Ellen Scott, Senior Project Manager in IDO. 

“The Open University and WaterAid, which is the leading NGO in the WASH sector, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, and we are now working with them and UNICEF and Plan UK to produce a short online course supporting the implementation of new rural sanitation guidance.

The creation of OpenWASH was inspired by the success of the OU’s HEAT (Health Education and Training) programme for healthcare workers, and supported by the university’s centre for STEM pedagogy, eSTEeM.

Both programmes provide free training modules hosted on the OU’s open educational platform OpenLearn Create.

Photo shows Count Me In! launch event, where organisations represented included the Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy; regional education and health bureaus; UNICEF; the Federation of Ethiopian National Associations of Persons with Disabilities; Ethiopian Women with Disabilities National Association; World Vision; Plan International; UK Department for International Development; WaterAid


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