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ERRWASH-12: Emergency clean water

Image: An Erga from Assilekebele.

 

What

Project Title: Emergency WASH in Disaster-Affected Hamar Woreda

The ERRWASH-12 project was launched in 2012 to provide emergency relief of safe water to 7,200 people living in in the Hamar woreda1 in South Omo Zone, Ethiopia.

 

Who

The beneficiaries of the ERRWASH-12 project are 7,200 Hamar pastoralists living in 15 kebeles:2 Lala, Area Umbale, Assile, Mirsha, Betagalafa, Shanko, Kelema, AchiAlgone, Area Keyisa, Simbele, Denbayte, Genbela, Demeka, Angude, Kolakeja, and WoroDayina.

 

Why

The Hamar region had developed a reputation for failed emergency relief projects. More than 40% of the existing water schemes were non-functioning. Many wells were constructed too close to the sandy riverbeds without adequate protection from flash flooding and livestock.

For the people in these 15 communities, safe drinking water was not available, open field defecation was standard practice, the incidence of water-borne and communicable disease was over 85%, and inter-tribal killing was a frequent occurrence as people competed for scare water.

 

How

The project focused on providing emergency water relief, but our goal included making sure the communities themselves could maintain their access to clean water. To reestablish clean water, the project refurbished the 15 non-functioning and damaged water schemes. With community participation we established or re-energized local water sanitation committees, training the members to maintain and manage their water points.

Key to sustainability is motivating the community to adopt safe hygiene and sanitation practices. Because of the short, emergency timeline of the ERRWASH-12 project, we hired Ergas (community facilitators) from previous projects as consultants to assist GTLI employees with our community learning process.

The experienced Ergas helped us fast-track the emergence of 110 new Ergas from the communities to encourage community adoption of new sanitation and hygiene behaviors. We formed household inspection teams to promote proper disposal of feces, safe water management, and hand washing. With community participation we marked defecation free zones surrounding the refurbished water points.

 

Impact

In a short 5 months 7,500 people gained access to 15 newly functioning wells providing clean water. But the longer lasting impact for these communities is they were positioned to be able to maintain those wells. More than twice the number of tribal members participated in our community learning process to promote sanitation and hygiene behaviors than we expected. One reason for this success was the work of consultant 15 Ergas from our previous projects in Hamar areas.

The impact on the lives of the women Ergas we hired was life changing for them and their communities. These pioneering Hamar women, who had been model facilitators in their own communities, overcame objections of their husbands to travel and work in these communities, remote from their own. Even though the Hamar men are not accustomed to listening to women, these persistent women were able to effectively encourage another Hamar community to change centuries-old harmful hygiene and sanitation practices. After five months away from home the women returned with their earned money to invest in their families and their futures.

 

Metrics

Before   After
# People accessing clean water   0   7,200
# Functioning wells (maintained by community)   0   15
% households using pit latrines and adopting healthy hygiene   0%   29%

 

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DevWASH-11: Sustainable clean water

Image: Community constructed fencing keeps goats away from water source.

 

What

Project Title: Sustainable Clean Water and Disease Prevention in Galcide & Itu, Ethiopia

The DevWASH-11 project launched in 2011 with the support of several Rotary clubs in U.S. and the Addis West club in Ethiopia to provide sustainable, clean water to 1,000 people living in the Minogelti kebele1 of the Hamar woreda2 in South Omo Zone, Ethiopia.

 

Who

The beneficiaries of the DevWASH-11 project are members of the ancient Hamar tribe who have settled, due to shrinking grazing lands available to them, in two population clusters: Galcide and Itu in Minogelit kebele.

 

Why

There was no water in these communities, and rainfall was scant and unpredictable. Women and girls walked for more than 2 hours to collect and carry water from polluted holes dug in dry river beds. No one in the community practiced sanitation or hygiene, because nothing in their traditions taught them to do that. The result was that 85% of the people suffered from roundworm and 82% from diarrhea. Healthcare services were a two-day walk away, so these preventable diseases led to serious complications and premature death.

 

How

We began working with the community elders who are the decision makers for the community. They agreed to allow us to introduce our community learning process with groups of men, women, and teens to help them understand what was making them sick and what they could do about it.

The promise of feeling better and ready access to clean water is a powerful motivator. We started work on the wells, but the community understood that we would not uncap the wells until they adopted the new sanitation behaviors. Keeping a water supply clean requires significant changings in behavior for these communities. They must give up traditional practices of open field defecation and adopt new practices: using latrines and keeping livestock away from their water source.

In this project we employed one of the Ergas (community facilitators) from another Hamar community to teach in Ita. This empowered her to have an effective voice in the community and placed her in a position where she taught the Hamar elders, a dramatic change in the cultural practices of the Hamar people, where traditionally women have no voice.

It is a challenge in a remote area like this to provide new wells. Two previous NGOs ran out of time and money in their attempts to drill wells here. We worked with 4 contractors, including one who left in the night without completing the job. Flash floods destroyed community build roads and 40% inflation completing the wells a logistical challenge. But we ultimately succeeded, resulting in 2 new, shallow-drilled wells.

 

Impact

This community has learned that their behavior affects their health. They have participated in creating an environment that supports clean and safe water close to their homes and improves their health. These outcomes reinforce their willingness to adopt new behaviors to improve their well-being.

Clean water is only sustainable if the community can maintain it. We trained the water and sanitation committees in both communities to perform preventative maintenance, repair the pumps, and monitor the marked defecation free zones. The Ergas (community facilitators) assumed responsibility for monitoring and managing their own community’s process of encouraging new sanitation and hygiene practices.

 

Metrics

Before   After
# People accessing clean water   0   1,045
# New wells (and maintained by community)   0   2
% households using pit latrines and adopting healthy hygiene   0%   ?%

 

 

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