|© UNICEF Ethiopia/2006/Getachew|
|Yezab Menge washes her son's face with water from a well constructed by UNICEF using funds from the bottled-water supplier Volvic Germany.|
SOUTH GONDAR, Ethiopia, 14 July 2006 – Yezab Menge and her neighbour help each other strap large earthenware pots filled with over 15 litres of clean water onto their backs. The water is drawn with a hand pump from a well constructed in their district using funds donated by bottled-water supplier Volvic Germany through the German Committee for UNICEF.
Bearing their heavy load, the women begin the 15-minute walk home, which takes them through parched fields and up a steep hill. Despite the strain, they are thankful because, until recently, fetching water was a much greater ordeal.
Yezab, a mother of seven, lives in the village of Melagudi in the South Gondar Zone of Amhara Region. She and her husband are farmers, earning their livelihood working the fields and raising cattle.
“My husband and I work hard so that we can educate our children,” says Yezab. “My dream is to see them grown up and successful.”
Living with drought
Life in the drought-prone area makes the work that much harder. “Last year there was drought,” says Yezab. “The rains stopped in August and worms ate our bean crop. We did not have a harvest this year and we are forced to sell our cattle to survive.”
|© UNICEF Ethiopia/2006/Getachew|
|With her neighbour, Yezab Menge fills a container from the new water point in the village of Melagudi in Ethiopia’s Amhara Region.|
“Water is a major problem in this area,” says Yezab. “Both people and animals suffer. Before this pump was constructed we had to walk over an hour to get to the Bira River. We had to wait to fill one container and we had to dig to get to the water. People would compete with animals for the limited water.
“We would strain that dirty water with a cloth to remove the worms before drinking it,” she adds. “We would get sick from the bugs in the water. Today we are much better. The animals drink from the river as they please because there is no one to fight over the water with them. We have this clean source.”
Partnership with Volvic
UNICEF’s partnership with Volvic Germany through the ‘1 litre for 10 litres’ fundraising campaign began in 2005. For every litre of water sold, Volvic has promised to supply 10 litres of fresh water for the Amhara district.
In the next 10 years, ‘1 litre for 10 litres’ aims to build 55 wells and provide more than 1.54 billion gallons of water in the area.
Having a clean source of water nearby is improving all aspects of life – including allowing more time for Yezab to care for her family and ensure that her children are better prepared for school.
The water point in Melagudi is considered a valuable community asset. With the support of the local water office, a committee selected by the villagers regulates the use of the water.
Water-supply coverage in Ethiopia
Coverage levels for water and sanitation in Ethiopia are among the lowest in the world. Only 22 per cent of the country’s population has access to safe water (defined as 20 litres per person, per day, within a distance of up to two kilometres).
UNICEF aims to assist Ethiopia in increasing rural water-supply coverage to 62 per cent by 2015. The organization's contribution will be the construction of new water-supply schemes and rehabilitation of old systems.
More on the drought in the Horn of Africa