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Water and sanitation are at the heart of our work to help people climb out of poverty and IDP is working among four Woredas (districts) at Debark, Adi Arkay, Beyeda and Janamora in the North Gonder Zone of Amhara Region, northern Ethiopia.

Here, our project aims to solve water shortage and water purity problems by:

  • providing safe drinking water,
  • improving sanitation,
  • combating widespread illness and
  • helping to eradicate communicable diseases caused by water-borne parasites and infections.

The overall objective of our Water and Sanitation project is to enhance the well-being and productivity of farming communities.  Initially we are helping to solve the water shortage and water purity problems of communities totalling 5,000 people through the provision of an adequate, reliable and clean water supply and access to sanitation facilities.  Our project will also make a tangible contribution to the local economy by providing water supply services that meet the needs of livestock, industry and personal users.

The Noth Gonder Zone of the Amhara Region (the 2nd largest Region of the country) in northern Ethiopia is one of our main project sites.  The communities in our project area are faced with multiple problems relating to health, food security, infrastructure, education, harmful traditional practices and other basic necessities.  

The social, economical, political and technological background of the area is very much at the grass roots level.  Poor sanitation and lack of a reliable supply of safe water has serious consequences for children and mothers, as they are medically, socially, culturally and physically vulnerable.

Specifically, we aim to address the problems of clean water coverage, the incidence and prevalence of water-borne diseases (such as diarrhoea and intestinal infections), water-washed diseases (such as trachoma and scabies), poor sanitation practices in the community and the vulnerability of mothers and children.

All of the top ten diseases in Ethiopia are directly or indirectly related to poor water and sanitation which, in turn, leads to problems in maternal and child health as women and girls spend much of their time fetching water.  This is also one of the causes of drop-out of female students from school and, consequently, early marriage.


The Impact of our Work

On completion of our Water & Sanitation Project, the farming communities in our area will have local access to a regular and reliable source of clean, safe water which will significantly reduce the incidence of water-borne diseases, especially among children, which are currently responsible for 15 per cent of all deaths.  It will make a real difference to the lives of thousands of women and girls by saving the time and energy they usually expend in walking long distances to fetch water every day.

In practical terms, this will mean that women and girls will be able to collect clean water much nearer to their homes than is currently possible.  Easier access to water will give women more time to earn money, to care for their children and for other household chores.  Having latrines in rural schools will reduce school drop-out rates of female students and encourage girls to pursue their education because they'll have more privacy and security.

Separating water for animals from water for humans will reduce animal to human disease transmission and the incidence of illness among the community will be further reduced through a programme of training in personal hygiene and public health issues.  Local health workers, supplemented by student volunteers, will provide information on water-related diseases and encourage local people to take steps to protect their own health.  Taking their message from house to house they will advise community members on hygiene and latrine construction.

Water improvement projects are only sustainable if local communities are directly involved in the planning, ownership and management of their own water facilities.  Under Ethiopia's decentralised system, local communities decide what kind of water systems they need.

The organisation of water and sanitation committees will put local people at the heart of decision-making.  As women are responsible for water supply and sanitation in households, a special focus on women and on gender issues in the design, planning, construction and management of water supply and sanitation facilities is paramount.

Community participation during construction is one indication that the community will use the facility properly after completion.  At the woreda level, the training and use of local artisans increases private sector participation in the development of sustainable operations.  The involvement of micro-entrepreneurs and small-scale traders is essential for the sustainable implementation, management and maintenance of the water facilities.

This community-led approach ensures that the technology chosen is appropriate for the area and that people are confident they can maintain their own water and sanitation services.  Communities understand their own needs and how to construct and design their own water points, wells, latrines and boreholes.