Severe Water Shortage No More

 Project Taps into Existing Groundwater to Bring Sustainable Water to Community

By Ayuko Matsuhashi

SHINILE, SOMALI, 17 January 2017 – Munasib Omer, Chief of Bisle kebele (sub-district) in Shinile woreda (district), tells how excited the community is about the ongoing drilling work of a borehole in the kebele. “Thank you! Thank you to those who are providing the water to this kebele.”

Harshim Town Fafan Zone Somali region
Chief of Bisle kebele, Munasib Omer Maydhane, explains how Bisle has not had sustainable water while standing in front of an abandoned reservoir. ©UNICEF/2017/Tsegaye

He continues, “Since I was born, there has been no sustainable water supply in this community. We are entirely dependent on rainfall and travel 15 km one way to get water from a dried river bed. Here, we can use our hands to dig through the sand and find some water. But in the last 10 years, we have suffered from water shortage. NGOs and the government have been providing water through trucking but this is not enough and not predictable as the road condition is so difficult for trucks to access. Our primary problem has been always water.” He points to the road from which the UNICEF car arrived. “As you may have seen, there are many empty houses [along the way]. People left because of the water shortage.”

A mother of four children, 32-year-old Fadumo Ali talks about how difficult it is to raise children without a secure water source. “Sometimes there is no water to give to our children. We cannot wash them.”

UNICEF’s implementing partner, Hydro, began drilling a borehole in November 2016 at a location 1.5 km outside the Bisle community, which has a population of 11,000 people. This crucial drilling work is made possible by the DFID emergency fund. While it is difficult to find water by drilling in lowland areas due to the nature of the hydrogeological complexity in the Somali region, water was found at a depth of 210 meters and the drilling was completed at depth of 299 meters. According to a pump test, the borehole is providing more than 30 litres per second. The post-drilling construction is planned to be completed by March 2017. This news has brought hope for a better future to the Bisle community.

Pump test
People from Bisle kebele play with the water during a successful pump test of the borehole. ©UNICEF/2017/Godfrey

Fadumo is now looking forward to the day that she will no longer need to worry about water. She will have a few extra hours per day once the borehole is functional as she will not travel in search of water. “When I have regular water and more time, I want to do more about sanitation and hygiene for my children. I will clean my children more often.”

Through the generous contribution of donors, UNICEF will continue to support regional water bureaus across the Somali region to implement similar sustainable interventions that will support children and their families.

 

 

 

ONEWASH  – UNICEF Ethiopia’s pivotal role 

By Dr Samuel Godfrey

Two months ago, I asked five friends of mine two critical questions; one where does the water that flows out of your tap come from and second where does the waste that is flushed down your toilet go to? Answers like, from a river or “my toilet waste is flushed down a sewer pipe…where it goes, I don’t know?” These answers are symptomatic of many educated peoples understanding.  Last month, I asked five inhabitants of the northern Ethiopian town of Wukro the same question. All five respondents gave me an articulate description of borehole water as well as the exact location of all the septic tanks.

Water and Sanitation are a daily priority for most of the world and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 6 has been designed to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to water and sanitation by 2030.

In Ethiopia, UNICEF was ahead of the SDG curve and in 2013 developed a programme called the ONEWASH which was designed to pull all financial resources from the government, aid agencies, development banks and the UN around ONEPLAN.

To develop the ONEWASH programme, UNICEF Ethiopia was delegated by the Government of Ethiopia to design the strategy for a 10 year plan to ensure that the 50 million people gain access to water and 70 million people gain access to sanitation in every house in every town, city and village across Ethiopia. The ONEWASH is the biggest water and sanitation initiative in Africa and requires an estimated investment of US$2.4 billion. See http://www.unicef.org/ethiopia/OWNP_LEAFLET.pdf.

The ONEWASH programme has: ONE plan, ONE Budget, ONE Procurement system, ONE monitoring system and ONE report. Led by the ONEWASH Coordination office in the Government of Ethiopia  Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity  and with financial and technical collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, Education and Health, the ONEWASH was a “showcase” at the 2016 Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting.

UNICEF Ethiopia also teamed up with the key financiers in the WASH sector in Ethiopia such as the World Bank, African Development Bank, DFID, Government of Finland and others to set up a Sector Wide Approach (SWAp) pool fund called the Consolidated WASH Account where funds are blended together. To ensure all UNICEFs financial rule and regulations were respected, UNICEF Ethiopia developed a Fiduciary Risk Assessment tool. This is now been worked into a Programme Operational Manual and is used to guide the sector investments.

The SDGs present an opportunity and challenge for UNICEF Ethiopia. If ONEWASH is successful it will improve sanitation and hygiene facilities in hospitals, schools and health centres and will provide essential water supply for areas affected by climate change and drought. It will ultimately result in reducing undernutrition in children and improving the cognitive performance of school goers.

We are working in the WASH sector to complement and partner with other sector financiers to ensure that all children and all women, everywhere: rural and urban – development and emergency -have the right to water, sanitation and hygiene in communities, health centres and schools…..ONEWASH for all…

Dr Samuel Godfrey is Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Section Chief at UNICEF Ethiopia

South-South Cooperation as a new approach for WASH sector development in Ethiopia

By Samuel Godfrey and Michele Paba 

South – South Consultative Meeting Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
(LR) Ms.Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, Ato Kebede Gerba State Minister MOWIE, Octavio Henrique Cortes Brazilian Ambassador to Ethiopia. Signed a trilateral program document to cooperate on WASH under South-South initiative. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Tesfaye

In the effort to improve delivery of essential services to women and children, South-South cooperation provides a platform for lower income countries to learn from middle income countries that have recently addressed developmental challenges similar to their own. Ethiopia’s aspiration to reach middle income status by 2020 means that its five-year Growth and Transformation Plan II is heavily reliant on exploring the economic and social development models of China, Brazil, Cuba and other Latin American Nations.

The need to address rapidly urbanizing small and medium sized towns is central to Ethiopia’s growth. UNICEF in its new Country Programme (2016-2020) has identified urbanization as one of the key challenges being faced by women and children. How do lower income households get access to equitable and affordable services such as health care, education, water supply and sanitation? How will the rights of out-of-school children in urban areas be protected?

To answer some of these questions, UNICEF Ethiopia has supported the South-South partnerships between the Government of Ethiopia and the Governments of Brazil and Cuba in two strategic areas, Urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Integrated Water Resource Management.

The cooperation initiative with Brazil was initiated in 2014 with the support of UNICEF Ethiopia and Brazil Country Offices and the UK Government, under the ONEWASH Plus Programme, with the aim of supporting the water and sanitation sector in Ethiopia in two key pillars, namely, the development of the sanitation sector in towns, with particular focus on technology transfer for the treatment of waste water generated by densely populated housing facilities such as condominiums, and the establishment of an independent regulatory framework for WASH services at all levels.

Given the extensive experience of the Cuban Government in river basin and water resource management, the recently established collaboration with the Ethiopian authorities, supported by UNICEF and the US Government, will definitively generate great impacts on the watershed management plans and riverine resources conservation initiatives across the country.

The two South-South initiatives were reviewed, through a consultative workshop held in Addis Ababa on 26 May 2016, by high level officials from the Ministry of Water Irrigation and Electricity, the Embassies of Brazil and Cuba, UNICEF as well as other sector institutions and development partners including  the UK and US Governments. The workshop culminated in the signing of the three-year project document between Ethiopia and Brazil. Together, the partnerships with Brazil and Cuba will help Ethiopia strengthen the WASH sector to be able to better deliver services for children and communities.

During the event, the State Minister of Water Irrigation and Energy, H.E. Ato Kebede Gerba, underlined the importance of the integration of different forms of cooperation, both North-South and South-South, in order for the sector in Ethiopia to get the required exposure and learning from different experiences and practices.

Dr. Samuel Godfrey is Chief of WASH and Michele Paba a WASH Specialist at UNICEF Ethiopia

Baby WASH – the missing piece of the puzzle? 

By Samuel Godfrey

Mustapha and his one year old daughter Meia-Teza Wota Health Center Clinic
Mustapha and his one year old daughter Meia at Teza Wota Health Center ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2012/Getachew

The January 2016 Huffington Post article entitled Why are Indian kids smaller than Africa kids: hint its not race authored by Sanjay Wikesekera, UNICEF Global WASH Chief and Werner Shultink, UNICEF Global  Nutrition Chief, highlighted the link between child stunting[1] and lack of access to toilets. Children growing up in an environment where people are defecating in the open will result in kids crawling around on dirty floors, putting feacally contaminated material and objects in their mouths and ultimately will results in children having high rates of diarrhea which will result in their stunted physical and mental development.

To understand this better, UNICEF Ethiopia WASH team and John Hopkins University undertook a systematic review of more than 1000 peer reviewed academic articles with the aim of identifying interventions that health and WASH professionals can take or promote to reduce the contact of children with feacally contaminated material. The review identified strong evidence on the linkage between open defecation, stunting and early child development (See figure below from Ngure et al (2014).

Picture1

The review also notes good knowledge of how to do hygiene and sanitation promotion to safe disposal of adult feaces but limited evidence on safe disposal of baby feaces.

UNICEF Ethiopia is using the review to design specific Baby WASH interventions that can complement our current Infant Young Child Feeding programmes. Ethiopia has substantially reduced Open Defecation during the last 25 years. In 1990, an estimated 9 out of 10 people were “pooing” in the open and by 2015, this had reduced by 64 per cent to less than 1 in 3 people. However, despite this progress, almost half of children were recorded as ‘stunted’ or not achieving their full physical and mental growth by 2015. The literature suggests that Baby WASH, as we have termed it, may be one of the key “missing pieces” in reducing stunting. Baby WASH comprises of a ‘menu’ of physical and promotions activities which will reduce the exposure of the BABY to ingestion of feaces and ultimately reduce stunting and improve Early Childhood Development.

Watch this space for more details on field evidence on Baby WASH from UNICEF Ethiopia as we work closely with the Government of Ethiopia and development partners to expand this intervention throughout Ethiopia in our new Country Programme of Cooperation between 2016 and 2020. For the time being, UNICEF Ethiopia is using its own financial core resources. Interested development partners are welcome to join this groundbreaking initiative.

UNICEF Ethiopia is collaborating with the US based Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of International Health, Program in Global Disease Epidemiology and Control. A researcher from the school was an intern in the UNICEF Ethiopia WASH section in 2015 and has collaborated with the WASH section on producing a paper entitled Evidence on Interventions Targeted at Reducing Unsafe Disposal of Child Feaces: A Systematic Review.

UNICEF Ethiopia’s rural wash activities are supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Government of Netherlands, the Government of Canada and the UNICEF National Committees from Germany, UK and New Zealand.

Dr. Samuel Godfrey is Chief of WASH for UNICEF Ethiopia, and has a PhD and MSc in Civil Engineering and Water and Waste Engineering.

[1] Stunting is a sign of ‘shortness’ and develops over a long period of time. In children and adults, it is measured through the height-for-age nutritional index. In Ethiopia approximately 40 per cent of children are stunted.

Water trucking brings relief to remote communities and helps revive local education

By Paul Schemm

UNICEF-supported water trucking helps revive education
Ababa Abraha had to leave school to work when her family ran out of food amid a severe drought. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Hema Balasundaram

When the drought came to the remote kebele (sub-district) of Gonka, Ababa Abraha’s family held out as long as they could, in their picturesque village set among the sharp mountain peaks and deep valleys of the Tigray Region.

With no crops and food, however, they finally had to leave to find temporary work in nearby towns and pulled 14-year-old Ababa out of Grade 7 to work as a house cleaner.

Then came word that there was water being supplied and a Government feeding programme at the Gonka Complete Primary School, a rough stone building in the village, and Ababa was allowed to return.

“I like school a lot,” said Ababa, who dreams of studying finance at university one day. “But I can’t learn without food. If there is no food, I have to work to help my family.”

Gonka Kebele, which is near the arid Afar Region, was hard hit by the drought affecting much of the country. With its two wells failing, it received a 10,000 litre-capacity water bladder that is refilled every other day by a truck that makes an arduous journey over the treacherous gravel road.

Trucking water for the hardest hit

UNICEF-supported water trucking helps revive education
Every other day, a truck transports 10,000 litres of water through mountainous terrain to the drought-affected community in remote Gonka Kebele © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Hema Balasundaram

The current drought has rendered some 5.8 million people nationwide in need of access to safe water. As long term solutions to water scarcity are developed, the Government of Ethiopia, supported by UNICEF, has started trucking in water to the most severely drought-affected communities.

UNICEF’s 100 trucks are operating in the Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Somali, SNNP and Tigray regions and have already delivered 15 million litres of water to 300,000 people in the last month.

“It is the first of its kind, UNICEF providing full water services to beneficiaries,” said Getachew Asmare, the UNICEF Water and Sanitation Specialist in Tigray, where 110,000 people including school children have benefited from 4.6 million litres of water in one month.

In some communities, people are surviving on just 5 litres of water a day, a quarter of the Government-recommended 15 litres a day and a far cry from the 100 litres a day consumed by the average citizen of a developed country,” said Getachew.

The case of Gonka Kebele shows how water scarcity doesn’t just affect hygiene and crops but also education.

A lifeline for the school

Haftu Gebreziher, the 26-year-old director of the Gonka Complete Primary School described how he was losing students by the day before the start of UNICEF-supported water trucking and Government feeding programme. Some were spending the day walking for hours fetching water at the distant river, others couldn’t pay attention in class.

Students also complained about the difficulty of getting a drink and the lack of regular showers due to the water scarcity

“There was a drop in attendance and a rise in tardiness,” he said, estimating a 60 per cent absentee rate. “This was interfering with school but now with the water and feedings, that has stopped.”

UNICEF-supported water trucking helps revive education
A water truck hired by UNICEF fills a 10,000-litre water bladder next to the school. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Hema Balasundaram

The large yellow water bladder donated by the Government of Ireland sits right outside the school, next to the hut where the children’s midday meal is prepared. The students swarm around the water taps connected to the bladder and drink whenever they want instead of taking a long trek by foot or camel to a river in the distant valley.

The €110,000 (ETB 2.6 million) worth of donated water containers marks the latest support from Ireland, which so far has given Ethiopia €9.1 million to combat the drought. The water tanks and jerry cans will be used by UNICEF in the worst affected woredas (districts) nation-wide.

As the WASH cluster lead, UNICEF also supports the Government of Ethiopia and other partners in the rehabilitation, maintenance and construction of new water supply systems, provision of water purification and treatment chemicals, and provision of sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools. UNICEF is also exploring innovative ways to use satellites to detect deep groundwater for large scale, multiple-village water supply systems.

These efforts are helping ensure that students affected by the drought don’t have to forfeit their education. For 14-year-old Silas Hagos at Gonka Complete Primary School, this means that she can once again work towards her dream to become a pilot for the national carrier Ethiopian Airlines. When the drought came, she had to leave the eight grade to work.

She sold soap and packaged biscuits in nearby town for weeks until the feeding programme and the new water bladder allowed her to return and once again dream of flying.

“If we get the opportunity to learn, it is good – an educated person is better than an uneducated one,” she said with a smile.

EU’s Satellite images provide life saving water to drought affected communities in Ethiopia

By Samuel Godfrey

An ongoing UNICEF supported borehole drill in Musle Kebele of Kore Woreda.
An ongoing UNICEF supported borehole drill in Musle Kebele of Kore Woreda. The borehole drilling site was identified through combined remote sensing technology with conventional methodologies (hydrogeology and geophysics). © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene

Ethiopia is in the middle of an El Nino induced drought which has left 5.8 million people across the country without access to adequate water. More than 220 districts of Ethiopia are facing water related emergencies that arise due to either a lack of availability or quality of water.

As the WASH cluster lead, UNICEF supports the Government of Ethiopia and other partners in the rehabilitation, maintenance and construction of new water supply systems, provision of water purification and treatment chemicals, scaling up of water trucking activities, and provision of sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools. In addition, UNICEF is exploring innovative ways to use satellites to detect deep groundwater for large scale, multiple-village water supply systems. As part of the overall drought emergency response, UNICEF supports programmes in child protection, education, health and nutrition.

Groundwater, compared to rivers/lakes or other surface water, supplies 80 percent of all drinking water in Ethiopia. Water from the groundwater aquifers supports emergency water supply, urban water supply and livestock watering. With limited rains, many of these shallow groundwater wells have run dry and these communities rely on expensive commercial trucks to haul in water.

The more sustainable groundwater is located at extremely deep depths. In some cases, more than 300 metres below the ground which is the equivalent in height of the Empire State Building. To locate water that deep and then to drill and extract it is a major challenge.

Satellite image of Afar Elidar woreda Potential drilling sites
Satellite image of Afar Elidar woreda potential drilling sites

To tackle this problem, the European Union and UNICEF have selected 9 of the worst affected districts across Ethiopia to use ‘satellite’ technology to locate groundwater. The EU Joint Research Centre (JRC) are providing their expertise by availing ‘no cost’ satellite images which depict the physical and topographical characteristics of the districts from satellites 100s of KM in the sky. These are then combined by UNICEF hydrogeology experts to locate appropriate sites for the drilling of essential deepwells for drought affected communities.

Results to date are extremely encouraging that it should be expanded to a larger scale of the country. On a recent visit to a well sited using this technique in Afar, the UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake said “This approach is very cost-effective, compared to delivering water by truck. Indeed, every permanent well costs the equivalent of only three deliveries of water by truck.”

Mr. Lake added “This is only the beginning. With our partners in the European Union and the Government of Ethiopia we are expanding this effort through out the country, distributing water to villages, schools, health centres and cattle troughs.”

UNICEF would like to express its thanks to the European Union Delegation and the EU-JRC, for their establishment of a remote sensing partnership with UNICEF and providing the un-reserved support so far, which we believe to be strengthen and extended further in the future.

Innovative approaches like these are already showing results for boys and girls in the hard to reach areas of Ethiopia.

Dr. Samuel Godfrey is Chief of WASH for UNICEF Ethiopia, and has a PhD and MSc in Civil Engineering and Water and Waste Engineering.

In drought-stricken regions, children search for water and a lifeline for their hopes

In drought-stricken regions of SNNPR, children travel for hours to collect water for household needs.
In drought-stricken regions of SNNPR, children travel for hours to collect water for household needs ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene

HALABA SPECIAL WOREDA & MAREKO WOREDA, SNNPR, 22 March 2016 – In the northern part of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia, bright yellow jerry cans are everywhere: on main roads and dirt roads, carried by hand or piled high on donkey carts being led on long journeys. Whatever the method, the goal is the same: water.

In SNNPR, 73 out of the total 136 rural woredas (districts) are grappling with water scarcity. Out of those, 45 are severely affected. In many of these woredas, water scarcity is an old problem, made much, much worse by the ongoing drought, which is the worst this country has experienced in decades. The result of a double blow of climate change and the El Niño phenomenon, the drought has led to food shortages and threats to livelihoods and survival. 

When there is no water, education takes a backseat

Wogbela, 15, travels to a neighbouring area for water, returning home the next day
Wogbela, 15, travels to a neighbouring area for water, returning home the next day. “I am late to school every day,” he says ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene

Lack of water affects everything: food, health, education and children’s futures. In Washe Faka Primary School, located in Washe Faka Kebele (sub-district), Mareko Woreda of SNNPR, approximately 20 students have left school in search of work to support families whose livelihoods have been turned upside down by the drought. The children who remain in school are struggling.

“Students are coming to school with empty stomachs and leaving early because they can’t focus,” says Selfa Doloko, the school principal.

Fifth-grader Wogbela, 15, is struggling too. Every day after school, he travels hours to a water point in a neighbouring area. Because of the distance from his home, he has to stay overnight at a relative’s house. There are closer water points, but the long lines often mean hours of waiting.

“I used to go every other day, but the drought has dried up the ponds here, so I have to get water for the livestock in addition to water for the family,” he says.

In the morning, Wogbela travels home with his supply of water. He is tired by the time he gets home, but has to rush to school. “I am late to school every day,” he says, worried. Education is important to him, but it takes a backseat when there is no water.

Relief in sight

HALABA WOREDA, SNNPR – 24 JANUARY 2016
Munira, 13, is a student at Asore Primary School, located 30 metres away from a new UNICEF-supported water point. “It is much easier now. We can drink and wash easily,” she says. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene

This is the story of so many children here, but thankfully for some, there is finally relief in sight.

For the students of Asore Primary School in Halaba Woreda, a new UNICEF-supported water point approximately 30 metres away means a new shot at learning. Students like Munira, 13, an eighth-grader at the school, can finally breathe a sigh of relief. “I used to travel two to three hours a day to fetch water. The wait at the water point was even longer. Sometimes the taps did not work and I would have to spend the whole day there and go home the next day. It was so tiring and a waste of time,” she says, glad that clean water is now just a short walk away.

Abdusamad, 16, another eighth-grader at the school, adds, “Some students had to drop out of school because they had to spend so much time collecting water. I’m more confident now that I can finish my studies and I want to help bring the students who dropped out back to school.”

As part of the drought emergency response, UNICEF, as the WASH cluster lead, is supporting the Government of Ethiopia and other partners in the rehabilitation, maintenance and construction of new water supply systems, provision of water purification and treatment chemicals, scaling up of water trucking activities, and provision of  sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools. UNICEF is also exploring innovative ways to use satellites to detect deep groundwater for large scale, multiple-village water supply systems.

With 5.8 million people around the country in need of access to safe drinking water, UNICEF and partners are racing against the clock to provide urgent help.

For children like Wogbela, it cannot come soon enough. “I hope things change soon,” says Wogbela, “so that I can get back to learning.”