Coming Together to Build a Well: Clean Water for an entire Community

by Clara Long | @clarahjorth | International Medical Corps - UK
Thursday, 19 October 2017 12:28 GMT

International Medical Corps UK

Image Caption and Rights Information

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

PROVIDING CLEAN WATER IN ETHIOPIA

Economic growth and development have lately blessed Ethiopia; a landlocked country with proud, independent history and epic landscapes, located in Eastern Africa. However, the country still faces humanitarian challenges and at International Medical Corps, we are doing what we can to help.

Picture an everyday life where access to water is a rarity and the burden of collecting water, is one that often falls on children. For hours daily, children and other community members travel vast distances to collect and drink water. In the process, children lose out on the education they so rightly deserve and there are little or no reassurances that the water is actually safe to drink.

For many families living in rural areas of Ethiopia – this is the harsh reality.

In South Western Ethiopia, clean water is particularly hard to come by. Accessing water at all often requires long walks to unprotected and unreliable natural springs. A nearby river is sometimes the closest option, but rivers often hold contaminated water, leaving people and especially children, exposed to water borne diseases, such as cholera.

Mesfine Ena, a father of seven, is more familiar with this struggle than he should be.

“In the past we used to travel to a river to collect water as many as four times a day,” he recalls.

“The river water was very bad because animals like dogs and donkeys would drink from it. Students in our village had to miss school because it would take so long to collect water from the river. They were very sad to not be able to receive an education.”

As part of a resilience-building project funded by the European Union, International Medical Corps recently rehabilitated a shallow well to protect and improve safe water access in the region where, among others, Mesfine Ena lives.

“Everyone in the village came together to help build the well. Adults, children, everyone,” says Mesfine. “We have a seven member water management team made up of locals from the village who manage the well now that it is finished,” he adds.

”Now things are much better. It only takes ten minutes for most of the households to collect safe drinking water.” Most importantly, thanks to the water well, families no longer have to wonder whether the water their children are drinking will make them sick.

To ensure that the well remains a functional and sustainable part of the local community, long after International Medical Corps’ departure, members of the community regularly contribute to its maintenance.

“We really notice the difference and are happy to look after the well, because we know that if we don’t we will have to drink unprotected river water again. “

International Medical Corps have also provided local members of the community with capacity building, doing what we can to ensure that the region will have safe sanitation and clean water for generations to come.

One participant, 39-year-old Amaze Mikya, who lives with her family of six in the village of Chamahimbecho in the Bolososore region, told us:

“Thanks to these interventions, my children have access to safe and clean latrines. My husband, children and I work with our community to keep the facilities clean so that we can use it for a long time.