An elevated billboard, which was noticeable from afar, read, ‘‘Woshezewyer Water Point Built by World Vision in Collaboration with the Community.’’ The water point was busy with community members drawing clean water with smiles on their faces. The availability of water in the village had brought joy to many children who came with their parents and siblings to the site. They were playing hide-and-seek.
I approached one of the women in a queue and inquired about the benefit of having clean water within a few minutes of walking. She said she was overjoyed and a relieved mother. "I used to travel a long distance to a river, which both domestic and wild animals used. It was tainted by their waste, putting our children at risk of getting very sick," the 35-year-old Shemsiya remembered.
It was not easy for Shemsiya to walk a long distance carrying 20kg of water on her back. "The water source was an hour's walk from my home. Imagine how exhausting it was for me to climb up and down a slope carrying a jerry can filled with water. That was our day-to-day life experience," she said.
Ruda, 15, a grade 8 student, whose favourite subject at school was math aspired to be a pilot. She said, "As tradition has it, I was responsible for providing water for my family. I got up early in the morning and walked an hour back and forth to an unprotected water source. I missed many classes because of late arrivals. When in class, I felt sleepy and inactive because I was exhausted. I was not happy with my performance at school."
What is more, the rainy season was the hardest time of the year for the villagers. Tributaries from all directions flew to the water source the community used. As it got dirtier and turbid, drinking it became hazardous. "It was disgustingly dirty and even revolting, but we had no alternative. The frequency of our children’s illnesses increased by two to three times during rainy seasons," Shemsiya recounted.
To address the long-standing problem, World Vision, through its sponsorship programme, installed a solar panel to power a pump at the well, which has helped the village community. "It means a lot to us. What is more, it has prevented our children, especially the girls, from possible sexual abuse, abduction, and other malpractices," Shemsiya explained.
The beneficiaries believed the installation of the water pump was a blessing and a huge relief for schoolgirls like Ruda and her companions. The provision has had an impact on Ruda’s academic achievement. "I did a lot better at school after the provision," she said with confidence and vowed to achieve a better result in the next academic year.
By Aklilu Kassaye, Field Communication Manager, World Vision Ethiopia