DevWASH-11: Sustainable clean water

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



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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%   ?%




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


  • Funding Partners: Rotary clubs of Addis Ababa West and Nor'Wester of Port Angeles
  • Timeline: Completed Jun 2012