In Ethiopia, water is a precious commodity. Through years of inadequate funding, maintenance and a lack of skilled workers, water provision is well below the needs of Ethiopia's large population.
ORBIS has been working in Dita Woreda for over five years now. As a key element of the WHO recommended S.A.F.E. strategy for trachoma elimination, water is vital to our work. With a population of almost 95000, Dita has long since had a high rate of trachoma infection. Poor infrastructure and inadequate water supply are just some of the reasons for the spread of trachoma in this region. However, with the support of ORBIS, this is changing.
Through improving the local water supply, we can not only teach the importance of hand and face washing in the battle against trachoma, we can put this into practice. Given that trachoma is spread through contact, clean water is vital in stopping transmission. The added benefit to providing clean, potable water is that not only will this help to eliminate trachoma but it is hoped that there will be a decline in other diseases too.
In partnership with WaterAid, ORBIS is buliding water stations drawing on subterranean springs. At a cost of just $500, these water stations provide water to some 100 households or 650 people in the immediate vicinity. Through advocacy and community awareness schemes, these stations are providing the population with an alternative to traditional methods of water collection at oftentimes unclean rivers and streams.
As we continue on our journey towards a world where no one is needlessly blind, your support for our clean water projects is extremely important. On behalf of all those who will benefit from these facilities, thank you.
ORBIS Ireland is committed to providing the Ethiopian people with access to clean water; an integral element in the battle to eliminate trachoma from the country. Trachoma is a highly contagious disease that is transmitted through contact. Promoting personal hygiene and the importance of hand and face washing is highly effective but without access to clean water this education can become redundant.
Recently, a group of fundraisers joined me on a tour of Konso, southern Ethiopia. The region is largely inhabited by farming communities. Water is a scarce resource and many members of the community travel up to twenty kilometres to fetch it. The area is largely dry and before our intervention there was virtually no water harvesting infrastructure in place.
In partnership with Water Aid, ORBIS has transformed accessibility to clean water in this area. Building an underground damn has allowed the community to collect water all year round. In turn, this is connected to a nearby pumping station that serves around 1000 people. The impact of providing water to this community has been enormous and your generosity has made this project possible.
ORBIS has been working to provide clean water to the people of Konso for over five years now and with your support, we are making progress. Through providing access to clean, potable water, we are helping to eliminate trachoma and other diseases. By 2015, we hope to leave the people of Konso with the skills and infrastructure needed to support themselves in a sustainable way. Thank you for being a part of this.
Providing access to clean water in Dita Woreda
ORBIS has been working in Dita Woreda, in southern Ethiopia for five years. Dita has traditionally had a very high prevalence of trachoma with very poor water coverage. Access to clean water is vital in the fight against avoidable blindness. Diseases like trachoma are highly contagious and are easily spread through contact with a family member or friend. Education around the importance of clean hands and faces significantly minimises the spread of trachoma but without access to clean water the education is futile.
Dita has a population of 91,594 and is situated 60 kilometres from the nearest town of Arba Minch. Dita is separated into 24 kebeles (villages) situated in mountainous terrain with very poor infrastructure.
Dita is beautifully green and has a lot of rain during the rainy season. It may seem strange that in an area where there is a lot of rain, albeit for only a few months of the year, there is no facility to collect water. But the reality is that there is simply no infrastructure in place to facilitate this.
ORBIS is working with Water Aid and local company Mekane Yesus to change this. While we were in Dita, we visited a new ORBIS funded water station which uses a natural spring as its source. The water is piped from the spring to a simply designed water station where it is accessible at a number of points through taps. The cost of building the water station and laying the pipes was only $500 and this water station now provides clean water to around 100 households or 650 people. Local people were encouraged to assist in the building of the water station. This reduces the cost, gives them ownership and helps change their traditional practices of collecting (often unclean) water from the local stream or river.
Providing access to clean water facilities, not only helps in the fight against trachoma but it also helps prevent the spread of many other diseases. ORBIS’s vision is a world where no one is needlessly blind. Your support of our clean water projects will have a very significant impact on this, giving the people of this region access to something that is a basic human right.
Building Water Stations in Bonke Woreda
One of the best ways to prevent the transmission of trachoma is by encouraging face and hand washing but this is not easy in Ethiopia where clean water is scarce. Good personal hygiene will help to slow the spread of bacteria which causes infection and ultimately prevent people from contracting trachoma. ORBIS representatives train teachers, community leaders and women’s groups about facial cleanliness, personal hygiene, environmental sanitation and how to wash hands effectively to prevent the spread of bacteria.
It is important that water is readily available before this training can be completely effective. One of the biggest challenges in water development and provision, along with the initial high cost) is the maintenance and follow –up of its function.
In Bonke woreda in southern Ethiopia, a large percentage of the water-pumps were non functional. ORBIS implemented a strategy to repair the non-functional water schemes this year. Up to the end of October 2012, four water scheme developments, two gravity and two on spot capping and pipeline networking of four water sources in Bonke woreda were undertaken in collaboration with WaterAid and Mekane Yesus Church.
It is estimated that these developments will give about 1,200 households or 6,000 individual’s access to clean water. In addition, one school communal latrine was constructed in collaboration with the aforementioned partners, also in Bonke woreda, benefitting an estimated 1,800 students.
Two communal latrines were also constructed at community selected sites in Konso. ORBIS supported the cost of construction materials and skilled labourers. The community also contributed by providing water, sand and labour. This collaborative effort, as shown in previous years, has brought strong community ownership, both of the water stations and the latrines.
21 November 2012
Mulatu Gabre is a health officer who has worked with ORBIS in Konso, Ethiopia for more than 4 years. He has extensive knowledge and experience in eye care programs, particularly in eradicating trachoma. He knows the area very well and is actively involved in water development activities.
The impact of working in water development is beyond trachoma control and is directly related to the quality of life of the community. Major childhood killer diseases are related with poor hygiene and sanitation and scarcity of water. Hence, working or contributing towards this activity not only reduces the prevalence of trachoma, but improves quality of life throughout a community.
To reduce the episodes of trachoma ORBIS is desperately trying to transform this region. ORBIS aims to eliminate trachoma from this region not only through conducting eye surgery to correct the disease and through distributing the antibiotic zithromax (kindly donated by Pfizer), but also by improving sanitation by providing clean water and building latrines.
In the fight against blinding trachoma, the roles of schools are found to be very significant. In linking schools with Health extension workers, community health agents, integrated eye care workers and identifying children with sight problems, teachers play a central role. Through teacher training and establishing eye care clubs in schools, it is possible to access communities to bring long term behavioral changes and greater impacts at community level.
With your support we will continue to work towards completely transforming this region so the next generation can grow up free of the threat of blindness.
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