Enderta is one of the districts in Tigray region of Ethiopia where easy access to water is a huge challenge. Providing water access by drilling simple shallow wells that is relatively easier in other parts of the country is not the case here. Water resources are limited. For this reason, a new water access is regarded as a treasure. Members of the community would give anything for a clean water and maintaining it, so it runs functioning for years.
This was exactly why Asay Gugsa, 52, a priest and a father of 6 children joined the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committee, volunteering first among the seven members. Priest Asay serves as secretary of the WASH Committee that manages the smooth functioning of the water point in his village, Dergagen. The water points in the village were constructed by World Vision. People like Asay and his family of eight are among thousands of families that World Vision serves every year with the blessings of clean water.
“We are out of words to express our delight on the arrival of clean water in our village. Better rains and clean water have always been on top of our prayers for God in the daily praise and prayer notes at the church. Our prayers are answered through World Vision,” says Asay.
Explaining the contents of the training members of the WASH Committee received, Asay says; “The first big lesson we learned was to consider the new water points as our lifeline. But I think we already knew that living without water for years. But it was good to be reminded so that we take good care of it,”
“The training also involved how to change faucets that have gone out of use, keeping the water points clean, maintaining our ledger books in order and overall good management of the water points,” he adds.
Joining him in the WASH club is Kahsu Kahsay, 45 and a mother of seven. She serves as treasurer of the WASH Committee.
“Waking up at 5 a.m. in the morning before the sun rises and trekking for 45 minutes was an everyday task for me and the other women and girls in this village. Things are about to change now, thanks to God and World Vision,” she says.
“The community elected me to serve in the committee and I did not hesitate to take care of our treasure, the new water points. We have already contributed about 10,000 Birr and it is kept at the bank for any breakage of the water system,” Kahsu adds.
Members of the community pay 0.30 cents per a 20 liters Jerry Can. The money collected is kept in the bank for any maintenance costs the water points may need. The Committee also hired a conductor who makes sure that everyone uses the water structures properly and cattle don’t enter and tamper with the faucets and the structures.
As a member of the WASH Committee, Priest Asay not only helps in managing the water points, he is also tasked to promote sanitation and hygiene messages during church preaches and ceremonies.
“We have the water to keep ourselves and our children clean to prevent diseases. That’s the message I get across at the end of my church services always,” he notes.
Establishing and training WASH Committee in villages where World Vision constructs or rehabilitates water structures is one of the mechanisms that water systems are managed properly with the aim of ensuring sustainability. World Vision is further piloting other business model approaches to ensure the sustainability of water schemes.
Story and photo by: Yosef Tiruneh, WorldVision Ethiopia, WASH Reports and Communications Coordinator