In Sub-Saharan Africa, only 36% of the population has access to basic sanitation (UNICEF 2009) including around 62 million Ethiopians (UNDP, 2004). Ethiopia has one of the lowest rates of sanitation in the world. Consequently, one of Ethiopia’s major health problems is the spread of disease caused by poor water and sanitation. These issues are compounded by a shortage of medical staff and health facilities. Estimates from the UN Children’s Fund show that 60-80% of the current disease burden in Ethiopia is attributable to environmental health risks, which include poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation. (UNICEF, 2010)
Like other parts of the country, open defecation and the absence of clean water are major problems in Gondar town, particularly in state houses where poor people live in difficult circumstances (high population density, bad road access, etc.). Most of the state houses in Gondar do not have enough toilets and the few that are in place are often not suitable. Seasonal flooding means latrines fill and are unusuable during the rainy season and bad construction means there is a risk of collapse, which in turns fuels a mistrust of using latrines as experiences of floors falling through are common.
Furthermore, over 90% of energy consumption in Ethiopia comes from biomass fuels and this pattern is a major cause of land degradation and deforestation in the country. This has a negative impact on climate change and the environment. Traditional fuels such as firewood and charcoal are used as the primary energy source for cooking by the majority of the rural and urban population even though the cost is high, and constantly increasing. In addition to such fuel sources being damaging to the environment, the people with whom The Kindu Trust works live in poverty and are burdened by every day costs such as food, water and fuel. Fuel is invariably needed for cooking but is a cost which many families struggle to afford.