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Symposium 2009

Implementation - CARE Water and Sanitation in Ethiopia

The Challenge

Water shortages are cropping up around the world – from Australia to South Africa, from Brazil to the Sahel. Many of the world’s mightiest rivers run dry before reaching the sea. Perhaps half th ...

Water shortages are cropping up around the world – from Australia to South Africa, from Brazil to the Sahel. Many of the world’s mightiest rivers run dry before reaching the sea. Perhaps half the world’s wetlands have been damaged or destroyed in the past century as salt water has displaced fresh water. These facts are striking, in view of the fact that the world’s population withdraws less than a tenth of the water that falls to the ground and that – unlike our fossil fuels – the world’s water supplies cannot be used up.

CARE Water and Sanitation projects aim to improve the quality of life for more than one million of the most vulnerable and impoverished populations in dry and semi-arid communities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

The projects are implemented with the strong involvement of the local communities and with the following objectives: the communities have full access to reliable safe water, sufficient water to contribute significantly to a range of livelihood uses; total sanitation is achieved and food security and health are significantly improved. Both the physical and the human environment of one million people in communities which used to be on the brink are transformed.

Success story

CARE has been working to provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene to communities in the highlands of Ethiopia for over eight years. An important part of the project is community involvement—locals form water committees and work with CARE to determine what sort of water source they would like and how they will build and manage it together.

This system has allowed CARE to exceed the target for constructing water sources in the area. Initially, it was hoped that 186 water points would be established, but today there are over 450 in the region.

CARE Water and Sanitation in EthiopiaMulugeta is responsible for the construction of a water pump, the most important project in his village for years. He explains that this success is due to the high level of community involvement, pride and ownership in the project. "I appreciate that the community is involved in all the work constructing this water pump. The local materials—such as stones and wood—are collected by the community. It is a good system because then CARE provides the materials that can’t be collected by the community. The communities also take care of the schemes and they ensure the stability."

Mulugeta’s role is to oversee the work of the community collecting materials and ensure the safe delivery of the items supplied by CARE. "I helped to build the waterpoint," he explains proudly. "I coordinated and facilitated the sand and the stones being collected by our community. I also managed the community financial contribution, monitoring and follow up."

That financial contribution also comes from the group, in a true local investment in local development. Each month, every member of Mulugeta's water committee contributes 3 birr (around 20 cents) to a savings fund. As the account grows, loans can be taken so that members can start other productive initiatives, such as animal raising or increasing crop production, with loans then paid back with interest. The group also contributes an initial start-up capital of 500 birr (around US$30) which pays for the skilled labor and construction of the pump.

With CARE's advice, Mulugeta has also learnt how to plant protective trees near the water scheme that maintain the ground water level and prevent run-off during the rainy season.

But the most important difference in Mulugeta’s community is not the construction of the pump, the trees surrounding it or the savings group—it is the availability of the precious water close to their homes. "The community is happy because we have pure water that is free from germs and diseases," Mulugeta says. "Before, we collected the water from the river but it contained many diseases. Sometimes people would walk for three hours to get water."

The benefit of clean water has been compounded by new lessons learnt by the water committee in sanitation and hygiene. CARE teaches the members about how to build household toilets, store water safely and improve personal hygiene. "Before the establishment of the committee, we didn't have sanitation facilities in our household but after taking the training we do. We didn’t even have a latrine, we went to the bush. But now we use our latrine properly. I also increased my crop production through using composting rather than artificial fertilizer. So, I’m also saving my money."

 

Source: Material provided by CARE Germany

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