Access to safe water is a daily necessity – and a fundamental human right

A solar powered installation. Photo:CARE

Ethiopia| 2023 | CBPF

Ethiopia, East Hargaghe and Oromia regions.  “We used to spend hours fetching water,” recalls Misriya Teha, who lives in Lemi village in East Hargaghe. A neighbor, Aliya, had to rely on sending her kids to fetch water. “They wasted precious time and missed school,” she says.

After five consecutive failed rainy seasons since late 2020, communities affected by the prolonged drought in southern and southeastern Ethiopia were relieved to see good 2023 belg rains. This brought temporary solace, replenishing water sources in some areas and rejuvenating pasture.

However, continued assistance is critical while recovery continues over the next few years. Water points remain contaminated, and many areas simply lack access to improved water infrastructure.

Emergency provisions for drought-affected people.

In Oromia, sixty-year old Zeyineba Omar Obadi got water from a local pond. But it was not safe water. The years of drought have rendered the pond contaminated. “We are getting water from polluted ponds, polluted by animal waste and dirt. We frequently got sick but we had no other option here,” she said.

With funding from the Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund, IRC provided a temporary fix for situations like Zeyineba’s, where there is no safe water available: emergency WASH assistance in the form of water treatment chemicals. “Now we have what we need to treat the water. We can use it to drink, wash, and cook. We get sick less often.” Zeyineba hopes such chemicals can remain available.

Investing in water infrastructure.

Poor water infrastructure continues to limit people’s access in many rural areas. For humanitarians, improving water infrastructure for underserved communities is a key priority.

With support from the Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund, Care International constructed seven solar-powered community water supply schemes in the area, reaching about 45,000 people with clean water.Health facilities in Alola, Chella, Chira, Finte-bas, Biko and Rogge were also connected to the piped water through the solar water schemes.

Access to safe drinking water at a convenient distance from home has become a reality. “Now, I can fetch water every day without interruption, thanks to the solar-powered system,” Misriya said.

“We don’t have to worry about fuel costs or generators breaking down. Clean water flows right into our village.” Aliya’s kids aren’t missing school any more. “They can focus on their studies better now,” she said.

Bedriya Abrahim, who lives in Gende Kebira village, also pointed out that, “We were at the mercy of the generators before. Now with the solar-powered systems, it’s much more reliable.”

Based on Original stories from Care International and IRC.

More information about the Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund: