DevWASH-13: Sustainable clean water

Image: Clean water close-by involves everyone in the community.



Project Title: WASH CS 2013: Building Pastoralist Resilience – Benatsemay Woreda, South Omo Zone

The purpose of the DevWASH-13 project was to provide sustainable, clean water to 5,000 people living in the BenaTsemay woreda1 in the South Omo Zone, Ethiopia.



The 5,000 pastoralists living in 5 BenaTsemay communities included 3,150 women and 780 children under the age of 5 years. This was our first project with the BenaTsemay.



The Benatsemay are pastoralists who depend on grazing their cattle in areas near where they have settled. These communities did not have access to clean water. As in other tribal areas, the lack of safe water and their standard practice of open field defecation resulted in a high incidence of water-borne and communicable disease.



As in our ERRWASH-12 project, we employed Ergas (community facilitators) from previous Hamar projects to help us implement our community learning process in the DevWASH-13 project. We worked first with elders and gradually expanded participation to include all men, women, and youth.

This project was a first in several ways. It was our first time working with the BenaTsemay, and even more significant, it was the first time Ergas from the Hamar tribe helped the BenaTsemay. This cross-tribe collaboration worked. We were quickly able to identify emerging leaders in the BenaTsemay community to help their community understand the advantages of using pit latrines and washing hands and face.

During the course of the project we refurbished 5 water wells, constructed 4 community pit latrines around each well, taught 2,500 people healthy hygiene and sanitation behavior, trained community water and sanitation committees to maintain their water points, built spare parts depots, supplied water and sanitation committees with initial spare parts inventories, funded initial income generating activities to purchase future spare parts, and provided 540 households with the ability to filter their water.



The project provided 5 communities with clean water, and more significantly, it empowered them to maintain and sustain access to that clean water.

This project also allowed us to demonstrate the scalability of our community learning process by successfully using it across tribes, with Ergas from one tribe facilitating behavior change in a new tribe. This demonstrates that by learning adaptive behaviors, neighboring tribes can help each other improve their resilience to changing environmental conditions. Working and learning from each other is an effective way for pastoralists to adapt to the changes around them over which they have no control.



# cross-tribe trainers   5 (Hamar to Benestemay)
# spare parts depots   5
# people trained   2,500
# household water filters   540


  1. a group of 20-40 kebeles, the smallest government unit


  • Funding Partners: Boeing Global Corporate Citizenship; Rotary District 5580 and Rotary Clubs of Duluth MN; Edina MN & Southington CT
  • Timeline: Completed Jul 2013