DevWASH-14: Sustainable clean water

The community learns by creating a map of their environment

Image: The community learns by creating a physical model of their environment.



Project Title: Building Pastoralist Resilience Network in SW Ethiopia

We launched the DevWASH-14 project in 2014 to provide access to sustainable clean water and facilitate healthy hygiene and sanitation for 8,000 people and to replicate the success we achieved in the Hamar woreda with two additional South Omo tribes: the BenaTsemay and Dasenech. The project was extended in July 2015 to benefit an additional 18,840 people



We are working with 16 communities in BenaTsemay and Dasenech woreda1 where 8,000 people live. We employ 16 Ergas, community helpers from previous projects, and have identified 20 additional emerging leaders in these communities to serve as teachers.



In SW Ethiopia 16 pastoralist tribes, migratory cattle-herders by tradition, have been forced to settle on arid land. Climate change and encroaching agri-business have reduced their access to water and grazing grounds. The people are increasingly dependent on food aid, and conflict between tribes over scare water is ever present.



The DevWASH-14 project scales up our innovative approach to providing sustainable clean water and disease prevention for 16 additional communities.

The 16 Ergas, community helpers, from previous projects and the 20 additional emerging leaders from these communities include both men and women. These Ergas help the community identify reasons for their illnesses and discover solutions, new behaviors that will prevent disease and protect their clean water.

The role of Erga is especially significant for women. By creating a promising network of women leaders across the region focused on sustainable clean water and disease prevention, the status of women is raised throughout the area. In the process they build the skills, confidence, and partnerships they need to improve their positions in their families, communities, and society.

As part of the project, the 16 communities in the project will receive a new or refurbished water scheme. We work with the community to establish water and sanitation committees comprised of community members who we train to maintain the water wells.



Word is spreading among the tribes of South Omo Zone that by transitioning to new hygiene and sanitation behavior, communities are feeling much better and water-borne disease is reduced. Three years ago attaining 30% behavior change in a community was considered excellent. The rate of behavior change of this project is 70% of the population. An extraordinary success.

Our community engagement and messaging has improved, but more significantly, communities are sharing experience and encouraging one another. This social resonance is happening from one community to another, and even more important, across-tribes.

By successfully employing Ergas from other communities and past projects, the DevWASH-14 project is positioned to cascade into the other 13 South Omo tribes and expand into neighboring zones.

The DevWASH-14 project and our successful community engagement process provide the backbone in these same communities for our innovative APC-14 project, a family planning and reproductive health initiative. Originally scheduled for completion in June 2015, this project was extended to provide safe water for an additional 18,800 people by the end of February 2016.



# New wells


# Refurbished wells


% of community transitioning to healthy hygiene behavior


# of beneficiaries to date





USAID logo boeing-logo

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


  • Funding Partners: USAID and Boeing
  • Timeline: Jan 2014 – Feb 2016