ERRWASH-14: Emergency clean water

Image: Crossing the South Omo River at normal water levels.



Project Title: Water Supply Emergency Response to flood-affected people in conflict-prone Dasenech Woreda, South Omo Zone

The purpose of the IRC-14 project was to provide emergency relief of safe water to 8,000 people living in the Dasenech and Nyangatom woredas1 near or adjacent to the flooding South Omo River in southwest Ethiopia.



The Dasenech woreda and the Nyangatom woreda, with populations of 62,572 and 21,426 respectively, straddle the hotly contested South Omo River in extreme SW Ethiopia bordering Kenya.



The South Omo River delta provides prime grazing land and crop land for both tribes. The November 2013 South Omo River flood devastated both areas, affecting more than half of the population and forced the migration of both people and livestock. The Dasenech headed northeast into Hamar territory and the Nyangatom migrated south into Kenya in search of water. This migration was the source of increasing conflict, including violence against women.



The IRC-14 project was launched in early 2014 to provide emergency access to clean water for 8,000 people living in the Dasenech and Nyangatom woredas by refurbishing damaged water schemes, training beneficiaries to maintain their water schemes, and promoting the adoption of healthy hygiene and sanitation by the communities.



The project refurbished 16 water schemes, 11 in Nyangatom communities and 5 in Dasenech communities. We established water and sanitation committees in each of the 16 communities, empowering total of 112 people to perform preventative maintenance and repair of their wells. Using our community learning process we taught and encouraged healthy hygiene and sanitation behavior.

We recruited community participation to help with road repair to access the wells, digging canals for pipe, providing local materials of sand and wood, and fencing and demarcating the defecation free zones.

From our previous experience with our community learning process, we expected about 40% of the population over the age of 15 in the 16 communities to participate in the hygiene and sanitation sessions. We trained government Health Extension Workers to assist our social workers and the Ergas (community facilitators) who emerged in their communities as early adopters in the process.



The impact of this project was immediate, easing the mounting tension of the communities with tangible evidence that specific, concrete activities were underway to relieve their stress caused by water scarcity.

With access to clean water and the adoption of healthy hygiene and sanitation behaviors, the risk of malaria and water-borne disease were reduced. Women especially were under less threat of violence as they were able to fetch water from safe areas rather than travel long distances.

And as the pressure lessened for Dasenech and Nyangatom to migrate to find water, this decreased the tension caused by movement in these hotly contested areas.



Before   After
# of people with local access to clean water   0   8,000
# of function wells   0   16


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


  • Implementing Partner: International Rescue Committee (IRC); funded by USAID/OFDA
  • Timeline: Completed Jun 2014