Project #8454

Orbis to Ensure Ethiopians Can Access Clean Water

by Orbis Ireland
Azeb Wondimmagage
Azeb Wondimmagage

Azeb Wondimmagage is a government Health Extension Worker based in the rural village of Dokuto. As part of her role she visits houses to advise on hygiene and sanitation issues as well as maternal health, and vaccinations. She understands better than anyone that being blind in a rural village like Dokotu is a hard life. As a farming village, blindness from trachoma is not only painful but it also leaves sufferers without their livelihood. They have to be lead by a member of their family and need help with basic everyday tasks like washing, fetching water and cooking.


Azeb’s personal mission is to improve sanitation through hand and face washing in Dokuto and this is what motivates her. The main challenge to her work is the shortage of water which makes improving sanitation difficult. It is a two hour round trip to get clean water in this area. The area that Azeb covers includes a population of 1,330 people. She has been stationed in Dokotu so she lives there, works there and distributes medicine from her health post there. Over her three years in Dokotu, she has seen an improvement in the understanding of better health and hygiene.


For Azeb, the impact of working in hygiene education is beyond trachoma control and is directly related to the quality of life of the community. Major childhood killer diseases are related to poor hygiene and sanitation often resulting from a scarcity of water. 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. Access to clean water is central to these developments. With your support we can continue to work towards completely transforming this region so the next generation can grow up free from the threat of blindness. 

Rehabilitation of non-functioning Water Schemes
Rehabilitation of non-functioning Water Schemes

Before Orbis' intervention, within the Konso area almost 60% of the water-pumps were non-functional. Orbis implemented a strategy to repair the non-functional water schemes which involved training community members on how to perform minor repairs on these pumps to ensure they are in working order. This strategy is focused on educating the local community on how to maintain the water schemes and also the importance and value of clean water. In this way, Orbis is working to implement long term, community based solutions to the problem of water hygiene in this area. 

A single water scheme could serve a population of up to 100 households. If the scheme is located in a school it can serve more than 1000 students.The average cost of maintenance for each water scheme is about ETB10,000 or €407. If there is sufficient budget the repair of the water pump should not take longer than 2 days, however, if a spare part is required this could take 2-3 days to secure.

One of the best ways to prevent the transmission of trachoma is by encouraging face and hand washing - not easy where water is scarce. Orbis representatives have started to train teachers about facial cleanliness, personal hygiene, environmental sanitation and how to wash hands effectively to prevent the spread of bacteria. In order to train the local community, it is important that water is readily available. Your generous support ensures that these water schemes continue to supply essential clean water to rural communities.

In southern Ethiopia, water is a very precious commodity indeed. However, ensuring that the local population can access clean, potable water is a priority in our work. The WHO recommended SAFE strategy for trachoma elimination places a huge emphasis on the need for clean water. Without this vital life giving resource, eliminating trachoma would be impossible. 

Our staff in Ethiopia are working hard to spread the word about the importance of hand and face washing. This action ensures that trachoma infections cannot take hold. Given that trachoma is a highly infectious disease, it is vital that we spread the word about facial cleanliness.

We have been working in Dita for over seven years now and the results of providing clean water to this area are starting to become ever more obvious. We can see that children have bright, clean faces and that their eyes are free from trachoma infection. Even more amazing is the fact that their parents too are learning the importance of hand and face washing in the battle to eliminate trachoma from this densely populated region.

ORBIS is working in partnership with WaterAid to ensure that the people of this region have access to clean water. The knock on effect of providing clean water to the people of Dita is that other diseases will decline too; meaning that your support for our trachoma elimination project goes even further. Without you, our work would not be possible and on behalf of all those who will directly benefit from your support, thank you.


Dita Water Station
Dita Water Station

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.


Konso Water Pump
Konso Water Pump

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. 


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Organization Information

Orbis Ireland

Location: Sandyford, Dublin - Ireland
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Diane Weatherup
Development Manager
Sandyford, Dublin Ireland