Providing clean water to vulnerable communities in Ethiopia
For Muhedin Mohammed, life in Oda Oromiya kebele in Ethiopia has not been easy.
“I have lived here all of my life,” the 40-year-old father of four says. “A lot of the times it has been difficult.
“The biggest challenge we face is that there is no clean water.”
Muhedin explains that he and his daughters had to travel for about two hours to fetch unclean water from a dry riverbed, spoiled by urine of cattle, people and other waste. The shallow well built by the government had stopped being functional years ago.
“The river is located on the border between us and other ethnic group,” Muhedin adds, “and sometimes conflict arises when we go to get water.”
In recent years Ethiopia has seen significant economic growth, declining poverty and improving food security situation. Yet, it remains vulnerable to climate-related shocks – drought; flooding; outbreaks of disease and movements of refugees from unstable neighbours.
High rates of maternal and infant mortality, limited access to clean water, lack of sanitation and hygiene facilities and poor nutrition continue to affect much of the population, with more than 80 per cent living in rural, remote areas.
Diarrhoea – and other diseases related to lack of clean water - are common in places like Oda Oromiya. “I have grown tired of taking my children to the health centres from drinking the dirty water all the time,” Muhedin says, “but there is no other choice for us.”
International Medical Corps has been working in Ethiopia since 2003 providing projects in clean water and sanitation, food, violence against women, mental health, sexual and reproductive health and primary health care, working in towns, cities, rural areas and refugee camps.
Together with UNOCHA, International Medical Corps expanded water and sanitation programmes to target vulnerable communities in the Gursum region of the country - including rehabilitating the well in Oda Oromiya kebele.
Muhedin describes getting water access in their village as a “miracle”.
“During fasting the community prayed day and night for clean water access and it is happened because of the work of International Medical Corps.