Emergency Efforts Lend to Sustainable Water Sources

By Rebecca Beauregard

FEDIS, OROMIA, 31 May 2017 – “Our daily routines have changed. We used to give water to our animals every other day, now they drink daily. I used to bath the children once per week, now I have no idea how many times a day they wash because they always come use the tap on their own,” says Saada Umer, pointing to her 4-year-old, Anissey, who is near the tap.

Sustainable WASH interventions
26-year-old mother of four, Saada Umer caries 2-year-old Sumaya on her back while tending to the livestock.  Saada and her husband are farmers living at the edge of Boku town, Fedis woreda (district) in Oromia region. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2017/Rebecca Beauregard

Saada, 26-years-old, is one resident who benefits from the new water supply system in Fedis woreda (district). She and her husband are farmers and have four children, ranging from 2 to 9 years old. Rather than filling 20 litre jerry cans daily at a water point a few kilometres away, she fetches it from her front yard where the tap flows anytime. The impact is literally life-changing.

Ethiopia has faced devastating drought conditions for the past two years now, affecting different areas of the country in different seasons and creating rippling effects in health, education, the economy and development initiatives.

In times of crises, emergency action is required and often takes priority over development initiatives, understandably, to save lives and curb any potential disease outbreaks. However, one emergency action by UNICEF, with funding from the German Development Bank (KfW) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID), supported the Government of Ethiopia to address both the drought-related emergency water shortage affecting 8,600 people while also contributing to a more resilient and long-term supply of water.

In Boko town, the drought had taken its toll at the same time that the town’s water supply system had run its 25-year design course, leaving thousands without access to clean and regular water. In times like these, those who can afford pay for expensive water brought in by vendors and those who cannot afford, take from ponds and rivers.

UNICEF Ethiopia purchased a pump and generator to supplement the drilling of a new borehole the regional and zonal water office initiated, providing further construction support to complete the project. The emergency-funded project enabled the water office to make functioning a 122 metre borehole which, as of February, supplies fresh, clean water by keeping two town reservoirs filled. In addition, it supplies 24-hour water taps in about 800 households in Boko, with water points at the edge of town providing safe water for surrounding rural villages. The borehole also supplies a water-trucking point nearby, where currently four trucks carrying two 5,000 litre water tanks are filled daily and supplied to the nearby Midega Tola woreda, which is lacking a water system while grappling with drought.

The effect of having household water has led to the creation of a town utility office, which records the water meters and collects payment for its use. Setting up this regular system has not only created more demand for household taps, it ensures steady water supply and a regular income to employ plumbers and maintenance crews for water system maintenance.

Hikma Mesfin is a 25-year-old Water Attendant at one of the town’s new water points. Her job is to open the point each morning, collect ETB 25 cents (US$.01) per jerry can from the users throughout the day, manage the site and close up each evening. Her salary is paid by the utility office, another regular income supported by the system.

Sustainable WASH interventions - Oromia
Hikma Mesfin, 25-years-old,  Water Attendant, Boku town, Fedis woreda, Oromia region. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2017/Rebecca Beauregard

“I was happy to get this job. It was difficult when it first opened, because people thought it was like the old water pumps, thinking the water could stop flowing at any time and fighting each other to be first in line. Now they understand it flows every day and they can be at ease. Everyone will get their water.”

While emergency times call for emergency measures, UNICEF and the Government of Ethiopia collaborate to ensure the most sustainable solutions possible are implemented where it is most needed. As the effects of protracted drought continue to wreak havoc on lives across the country, UNICEF calls on the support of international donors to fund projects such as deep borehole drilling which build resilience in communities and offer long-term solutions for challenges facing communities across the country.

German Development Bank grants 5 million Euros to UNICEF for the South Sudanese refugee response in Ethiopia

To benefit an estimated 250,000 people including both refugees and vulnerable host communities

ADDIS ABABA, 15 January 2015: The German Development Bank (KfW), today announced a 5 million Euros grant (close to 6 million US$) to UNICEF Ethiopia to improve access to quality basic services for South Sudanese refugees and host communities in the Gambella Region of Ethiopia.

The generous contribution provided by KfW, on behalf of the Government of Germany will be used to provide high impact humanitarian interventions in the areas of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), health, nutrition, education and child protection to an estimated 250,000 people including both refugees and vulnerable host communities.

Since the conflict started in South Sudan a year ago, more than 190,900 refugees have crossed the border into the Gambella Region in Ethiopia. The majority of the new arrivals are women comprising of 80 per cent of the adult population and 70 per cent of children from the total population.

“With this contribution from the German Government, some of the most vulnerable groups of South Sudanese refugees – namely children and their mothers – as well as the host communities in eastern Ethiopia will be supported during these very difficult times,” said Klaus Pfeiffer, Director of the German Development Bank (KfW) Office to Ethiopia and African Union.

UNICEF works with the regional government, Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs, UNHCR, other UN agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations to ensure that humanitarian assistance is provided in neutral, impartial and timely manner; addressing the inequalities and disparities and contributing to building resilience of the affected communities.

“We are grateful to KfW for its support for these life-saving interventions, which will focus on improving access to quality basic services for South Sudan refugees and host communities in Gambella Region of Ethiopia,” said UNICEF Representative a.i, Anupama Rao Singh. “We believe that the funding will significantly improve the lives of women and children as well as strengthen the service delivery structure within the host communities,” she added.

More specifically, the following results are expected to be achieved through this funding:

  • An estimated 110,000 refugees and vulnerable host communities will have access to safe drinking water, 40,000 people will have access to appropriate sanitation facilities (toilets and showers) and 150,000 people will receive hygiene promotion messages and materials;
  • An estimated 100,000 will have access to an improved health care system through capacity building and infrastructure development, 37,000 children will be vaccinated against measles and 15,000 households will receive long-lasting insecticidal nets;
  • 55,000 under five children and 10,000 pregnant and lactating women will have access to nutrition services;
  • An estimated 45,000 host communities and refugee children will access quality education through the establishment of temporary learning facilities and new schools;
  • 36,400 of the most vulnerable children will receive psychosocial support through the setting up of Child Friendly Spaces;
  • An estimated 2,000 unaccompanied and separated children will be reunited with their families.

For further information, please contact:

Imruwa Demissie, KfW Ethiopia, Tel.: +251 115180241; email: kfw.addis@kfw.de

Wossen Mulatu, UNICEF Ethiopia, Tel.: +251 115184028 ; email: wmulatu@unicef.org