Image: Women at risk traveling to and using traditional wells for water that is not safe to drink.
Project Title: Water Supply Emergency Response to flood-affected people in conflict-prone Dasenech & Nyangatom woredas, South Omo zone
The purpose of the IRC-13 project was to provide emergency relief of sustainable clean water and facilitate disease prevention for 6,500 people living in 11 kebeles1 in the Dasenech woreda2 in South Omo Zone, Ethiopia.
The beneficiaries of the WASH-CS project were5,000 pastoralists living in 11 Dasenech communities of Ochloch, Doshe, Nakiya, Bandire, Armade, Nanekore, Torogole, Hado, Lokoro, Awoga, and Dalangmore.
The lives of Dasenech women and children in this disaster-affected area were precarious. They suffered from malnutrition and high incidence of diarrhea caused by poor hygiene/sanitation and walked 2-3 hours every day to fetch water. Without access to conventional water wells, they were forced to collect water, standing on each others shoulders inside a hand-dug pit, up to 9 meters deep. Since these traditional wells are dug in sandy riverbeds, they often collapse, resulting in serious injury and occasional death.
The overall objectives of IRC-13 were to provide safe drinking water for 6,500 people by refurnishing 13 non-functioning water wells, empowering the water sanitation committees to maintain their water wells, and encouraging the community to adopt safe hygiene and sanitation behavior.
Water scheme refurbishment in the remote Dasenech woreda was very expensive compared to other areas of Ethiopia due to communication and transportation difficulties. Local material is not available and the stone for refurbishment work and access road repair must be trucked in from Turmi, 80 km away. Whenever possible we hired and trained Dasenech workers to help with the well refurbishment.
Previously, little development or emergency interventions had been invested in Dasenech woreda. The community members of Lokoro kebele were so excited that someone was willing to help them that the majority of the community became early adopters.
As always, using our community learning process we identified early adopters who then became community volunteer health promoters. Participation in our community learning process was more than double our target, and the Lokoro participation exceeded 72%.
Social resonance for this short-term project was amazing. After the Lokoro community, on their own initiative, built free standing shower rooms for males and females, 6 other communities followed suit. Lokoro also voluntarily constructed thirteen community pit latrines, because they were determined to become the first Dasenech village to be defecation-free.