Addis Abeba — People In Need (PIN), a non-governmental, non-profit organization, launched a water development project with support from the European Union’s Humanitarian Aid department. “So far, more than 8,300 inhabitants have benefited from safe and drinkable water provided by the project in the Segen Zuria Woreda and the Lultu and Aylotadokatu Kebeles, in the Konso zone, in the Southern Nations and Nationalities People’s (SNNP) Regional State, in southwest Ethiopia.
“Many communities in Ethiopia are faced with a lack of access to clean water sources. Less than half the population has access to safe water daily. With funding from the European Union, People In Need, PIN, is running water development activities focused on increasing the availability of safe water.”
Konso zone experiences acute water shortages, and the local population often travels for hours to fetch safe water, according to PIN. Following recent conflicts in the area, hundreds of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) have temporarily settled in the region, creating additional stress on already limited water resources. PIN launched the water development project to address this situation.
Shallow wells are improving access to drinking water
Kuyow Zemedu, a father of two, works as a coordinator of potable water maintenance in Segen Zuria Woreda. He also works as a government focal point for information and assistance for our shallow wells and borehole rehabilitation projects.
“There is a water shortage in the area. Rivers and ponds are the major source of water for our cattle and us. These water sources expose the community to water-borne diseases, mainly diarrhoea, typhoid, and typhus. This has led to many health problems, especially among the children,” he said.
According to Kuyow, the water projects have brought multidimensional changes to the lives of the villagers. Each shallow well is managed by a committee composed of two women and three men. This composition enables women to develop their leadership skills and apply them within their communities.
Relief for many women and girls
Women and girls typically spend hours on the tiresome task of carrying jerrycans for several hours per day. It was part of their day-to-day routine. Shakaya Sikanayta, a mother of three children and resident of Gocha, added: “We used to travel for more than three hours to fetch water from ponds and rivers, often carrying 40 liters of water in jerrycans. My children often got sick from water-borne diseases and were not healthy.” She spent much of her time and energy fetching water.
Now things have changed. Shakaya only walks for a few minutes to get clean water and does not constantly worry about her children’s health.
18-year-old Tirunesh Kenkensha is also another beneficiary of the project. “I used to fetch water from the Keto River once or twice a day, a three-hour round trip from my village. On such days, I would miss my classes,” notes Tirunesh.
Recently, Tirunesh started a new business, brewing Cheka, a fermented drink loved and consumed by locals. She is hopeful that the new business will bring her good fortune.
To make the water service sustainable, villagers contribute 10 birr per household per month. The money is kept for maintenance and other expenses.