Atsede Chalachew´s, 15, life has changed—dramatically. Living with her parents and two siblings in Bakel Village in Finote Selam, western Ethiopia, Atsede and the other women in her village used to spend up to four hours a day fetching water. Now, it’s just minutes away from her home and she says she has, in her words, “a lot more time to study.”
Finote Selam in the Amhara region of western Ethiopia doesn’t have enough potable water with only 66% of its total need being met. In fact, only 27% of Ethiopians have access to safe drinking water, and a mere 10% have access to sanitation facilities. As a result, illness and diseases caused by poor sanitation and contaminated water supplies are common.
That all changed in Finote Selam in early February with the inauguration of a water reservoir project with eight communal water points. Working in partnership Habitat for Humanity Ethiopia, BERA, Habitat for Humanity Germany, and Wilo have changed Atsede’s and community’s lives forever.
BERA financed the supply of pipes and fittings, development of four springs, pipe installation work and communal connections and public taps. The company, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary,sponsored the project valued at 1.2 million ETB (about USD 60 000). Wilo, one of the biggest pump producers in Europe, offered its assessment and installation services pro bono.
The reservoir project will serve both the low-income families, who do not have access to potable water, and the entire town. Overall, more than 400 families (2,785 people) will now have increased access to water. A further 100 families from five cooperatives and an additional estimated 262 families will have access within a year.
The availability of potable water will also reduce water-born diseases like cholera and bilharzia. “I have drunk river water all my life,” said 76-year-old Getinet Desta, who lives in nearby Shebekuuma village. “We had to go to a health center to be cured from these water-born diseases and incur unnecessary cost.”
Water committees and water department personnel have been trained to operate and maintain the system, which is key to the project’s on-going success. In addition, Habitat for Humanity, together with BERA, will also provide training to improve hygiene practices throughout the community.
“Habitat isn’t about building a structure but building a healthy home,” said Habitat for Humanity Ethiopia´s National Director Desiree Bartosiak. “That is why access to water is so very important and why we embarked on this project. Our Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (WASH) program has served more than 5,000 families to date across Ethiopia and we hope to increase this number exponentially in the future.”
Providing local leadership and gracing the inauguration event were Zeleke Anilu, Head of Zonal Administration; His Honorable Alebachew Lakie, Mayor of Finote Salem; Ato Liyew Animut from the local Municipality; Bezawit Wibneh, Head of Mayor’s office; Bishaw Gebeyehu, Head of the Water Department; and Ato Azmeraw Andualem, Shembekuma Kebele, Administrator.
Habitat in Ethiopia
Habitat for Humanity is celebrating its 25th year of working in Ethiopia. Now operating in 16 sites across the country, most of its activities are located in urban and semi-urban areas, focusing on delivering safe, decent, affordable housing to low-income and vulnerable groups.
HFH Ethiopia integrates its operations with other community-based organizations to improve effectiveness and provide more holistic solutions. Their work includes housing construction, WASH), urban/slum upgrading and other housing related services. To date, HFH Ethiopia has served more than 15,000 families including providing more than 5,000 families access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
To learn more, donate or volunteer, visit habitatethiopia.org.
BERA GmbH, a German human resources consultancy, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Ethiopia and Habitat for Humanity Germany, funded the $60,000 Finote Salem water reservoir project. BERA financed the supply of pipes and fittings, development of four springs, pipe installation work and communal connections and public taps.
Mr. Bernd H. Rath, who represented BERA at the inauguration held in the town on February 14, also visited families in the town of Debre Berhan, where Habitat Ethiopia had provided homes to vulnerable families, learning their stories and how their lives had changed for the better.
“I, on behalf of all those involved,” said HFH Ethiopia National Director Desiree Bartosiak, “would like to thank BERA for its generosity and philanthropic spirit. This donation, as part of your 10-year anniversary celebration, will impact this community by providing safe access to water for generations to come.”