- We have not had clean or adequate water, nor did our animals. As you might have seen on your way down here, our village is productive. We have everything, except clean water.
These are the words of Ms. Tsedale Tegenaw, age 33, and Ms. Demoz Bogale, age 40, who are women Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Committee members for Seriti Kristos hand-dug well in Moret and Jiru District in North Showa Zone.
Moret and Jiru is one of the 27 districts of North Shoa Zone. Here, like most of the districts in the Zone, access to basic water supply is significantly low.
Only 40% of the population is estimated to have access to a water supply. For the majority, unprotected and unsafe water sources remained to be the only sources of water.
In 2020, Norwegian Church Aid, together with its implementing partner, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church-Development and Inter-Church Aid Commission (EOC-DICAC) intervened in the district after assessing the critical water shortage faced by the local communities. With the support of Ross and Marianne Allan, it started the construction of nine hand-dug wells in five kebeles/localities of the District.
Waterborne diseases were common in the locality, severely affecting small children and elderly people. In 2018, the Moret and Jirru was affected by cholera (Acute Watery Diarrhea) outbreak.
-When the Ethiopian Orthodox Church development commission came here and informed us about the possibility of providing us with a hand dug well, it was something we never anticipated. We have been sharing water from an unprotected water source, that we shared with our animals and it was the only water source we had in the neighborhood. It was not safe, and we were suffering from diarrhea for so long, says Demoz.
- We are very much thankful today that we have a water well of our dreams just outside of our homes. The well did not only bring us clean water, but also good health, notes Tsedale.
The local community played a key role throughout the water well construction process- helping during the site identification to transporting construction materials to most of the inaccessible sites. Their engagement also remained after the water well was completed.
- As you see, it’s us (the WASHCOs) who mobilized the user communities and ensured their participation in the realization of this water well. It’s us, the communities, who fenced the well with the corrugated iron sheet, as we the water wells must be protected from animal contact. We are also responsible for its operation and maintenance. We are keeping this well as our greatest asset, they say.
- It is 88 households who are now getting clean water from this water well. We are grateful that we have clean water, and especially during this time of the COVID-19 to help us maintain good hygiene.
“For a woman, especially, getting clean water in her vicinity is everything”, says Tsedale.
Though it’s not the norm in the area, Demoz and Tsedale note that the involvement of women in the WASH Committee made it possible for them to equally participate as their male counterparts, and contribute their share in the development and management of the water well.
Nine of the hand-dug wells in Moret and Jiru now serve a total of 707 households and a total of 3,537 people. Some 1,807 are women.
- All we needed in our village was clean water, and we now have it.”, says Tsedale.