Ato Muez Asgede and his son, Birhane Muez, live in the village of Aynalem in rural Tigray, Ethiopia. Their average annual household income is about 5250 birr [$315 USD]. Last year, they shared their struggles without clean water. But today, they have taken charge of their project, and clean water flows in the community.
“My life is changing day after day,” Ato Muez Asgede said. “The community’s life is also changing from day to day. This is because we started to drink potable water, which is much different from before.
“The new water point is in our vicinity, so community members are now spending their time on other productive activities such as micro-irrigation, trading, and others.
“Some people in the community also have new latrines. I have attended a training focusing on hygiene and environmental sanitation practices. During the training I learned how to keep my house clean and tidy, how we are to wash our bodies, hands, and clothes with soap, and the proper usage of a latrine.
“I have already told my family and neighborhood what I learned in the training. For those who did not take part in the training and live somewhat far from me, I usually tell them during the weekends.
“Our community is capable of independently maintaining the new water system. We have recently hired a guard, and we have also established a water and sanitation (WATSAN) committee. We also planned to hold a meeting once every two weeks to discuss any problems and ways to keep moving forward with the program.
“We are preparing to open an account at the Debit Credit and Saving Institution in Wukro Town. The monthly user fee for the new water point is already decided by the WATSAN committee and the community to be 2 birr ($.06 USD) from every household for operation and maintenance.
“To make this water system last, it requires the participation of all of the community members in day-to-day management activities, such as keeping animals away from the water point, supporting the WATSAN committee in the sanitation activities, adjusting the time of the opening and closing of the water point, and holding meetings as necessary.”
His son, Birhane Muez, also shared his father’s excitement. “There is a huge difference between now and before. Now we start to drink pure water, wash our clothes and body from this source. Before, we used dirty water, which was located far away from our house. My friends and I are very happy about this new program. It has helped us to get clean water nearby and be able to attend school regularly.”