Dry and dusty landscape devoid of vegetation, children and mothers carrying jerry cans and waiting in long queues at water points – these are the sights that greet you in Maikel Adi village in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia.
Some 800 km north of the capital Addis Ababa, the Enderta district is home to over 100,000 people – 60 percent of whom are affected by the drought. Only two out of three water sources produce water. The others have either malfunctioned or dried up over the past eight months. The remaining water sources are in danger of ending up the same way if something isn’t done soon.
Mothers and children, particularly on girls, are bearing the brunt of the situation. “Previously we didn’t have water shortage. We had enough water to drink, prepare food, for cleaning, washing our clothes and for our cattle. But now there is a huge water shortage because of the drought,” explains Haddas Tadesse, 50, a mother of 2 and chair of the Water committee in her village. “I am very happy and thankful to World Vision because it is working with us to bring a solution and hope we will have sufficient water soon,” she adds.
Mileat (12) is in grade four and is very good at Tigrigna language. She aspires to be a teacher. Mileat is also the sole water provider to the family and the current situation adds extra work to her day, taking away the time that she can spend on her education. “I have to go to water points at least three times every day in order to collect enough for our household, in addition to cleaning the house and looking after cattle. Because of the long queues … it takes about an hour to collect 20 liters at once,” Mileat explains. “This time around I don’t have time to do my homework,” says Mileat.
In response to the plight of Mileat and thousands like her, World Vision has started to rehabilitate 30 shallow wells, develop three new springs and five new shallow wells. Two water tanks (5000 litre capacity) now supply water to 357 households.
50 women are helping to promotion better hygiene and 54 committees have been trained on water management as well as how to maintenance the water systems. “Now we are speeding up the rehabilitation of the water schemes so that children and women can fetch water from the nearby as before,” says another committee member Hanis Hadgu, a father of 8.
With the help of World Vision, the community is doing everything they can to bolster themselves against the worst of the drought that is currently engulfing Ethiopia.