Ripples of Transformation: A Tale of Triumph Over Water Scarcity in Rural Ethiopia

by Amref Health Africa

Obenso Jalo is a tranquil rural kebele nestled within the Shashemene district in the heart of the picturesque Rift Valley basin. Here, the land is abundant, but the water, tainted with high fluoride concentrations, has long been a source of hardship for its inhabitants. For years, accessing safe water seemed like an unattainable dream.

Ayantu Roba, a resilient woman of 38, resides in Obenso Jalo with her husband and their seven children, a lively brood comprising five boys and two girls. With a furrowed brow, Ayantu recounts the tribulations wrought by water scarcity in her kebele and its environs.

“In the past, our kebele lacked any water points to provide safe drinking water. The shortage was particularly dire for those unable to traverse long distances to neighbouring kebeles like Jalo Dida. My family and I often embarked on arduous journeys lasting over an hour to fetch water, enduring interminable waits at distant water points. During the rainy season, we resorted to collecting surface run-off for our basic needs, leading to a surge in waterborne illnesses within our household and community. The burden of these daily treks weighed heavily upon us,” Ayantu recalls with a heavy sigh.

Yet, amidst these challenges, a glimmer of hope emerged with the commencement of the water supply construction project in Obenso Jalo. Spearheaded by Amref Health Africa and the district water office, the initiative ignited a sense of collective purpose within the community. A consensus was reached through extensive community dialogues and collaboration to actively participate and contribute towards realising this transformative endeavour.

“We rallied together, every household in our village, to see this project through to fruition. And now, we rejoice in a gleaming water facility boasting eight public water points. My family and our neighbours now enjoy ample access to safe water, mere footsteps away from our doorsteps. This monumental achievement has liberated us from the shackles of water scarcity, significantly reducing the time spent on water collection. With newfound abundance, we reclaim precious hours to invest in our family’s well-being and pursue livelihood activities. The days of trudging for hours under the weight of 25 litres of water are behind us, replaced by a newfound sense of freedom and vitality,” Ayantu exclaims with palpable relief.

Amref Ethiopia’s WASH SDG Program stands as a beacon of hope, aligning with the Dutch commitment to advance the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG number six (6).

With an unwavering commitment to improving water, sanitation, and hygiene access, the program extends its reach across seven African and Asian countries, fostering sustainable change and enhancing the quality of life for countless communities like Obenso Jalo.

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