A shortage of clean water has been a long-time, critical problem for the people living in the rural village of Biherawi, located in Tigray, Ethiopia. In the absence of a better option, the community has been drinking leech-infested water from the river, which is shared with cattle. Because of this, waterborne diseases were rampant – especially in children.
Today, things are different for the people of Biherawi village because of Water.org and its local partner REST.
Yehansu Marye, age 35, and Hiwot Taddess, age 27, both live in Biherawi village and are members of the water and sanitation committee representing women of their village. This committee is in charge of the hand-dug well, constructed through the joint effort of the community, Water.org, and REST.
Yehansu and Hiwot used to travel for more than an hour each day to collect water from a contaminated river. The amount of water they collected was very limited and was not always enough to provide the minimum amount needed for their families’ daily living needs. But the distance was too far to make multiple trips.
“Because this amount of water was not enough to use for drinking and cooking, I had to use it very economically. On top of that, the water was unclean and was unpleasant to see it with the naked eye,” Hiwot said.
Today, the struggle for enough of water is solved. Women like Yehansu and Hiwot are able to easily obtain and use enough water each day. In addition to the three-fold increase in the amount of available water, the distance to fetch water also has decreased from one hour to 5 to 10 minutes.
The availability of clean and safe water in the village has allowed the community to use water for personal hygiene and environmental sanitation as well.
According to Yehansu and Hiwot, construction of the community’s hand-dug well has enabled their children to go to school in a timely manner. Because their children often used to help collect water, they were not able to attend school on time, usually missing two classes every day. But now, thanks to the new well, this is no longer the case.
Water.org and REST have also provided training sessions on the use and management of water for the members of this rural community. Yehansu and Hiwot were among the participants of these trainings. They took a four-day water and sanitation session where they learned how to property maintain the well and ensure its long-term viability. Other topics included in the training were sanitation, maintenance, proper uses of water, and well-guarding.
Yehansu is now in charge of fee collection and Hiwot is in charge of sanitation for the hand-dug well. Hiwot teaches women how to use water effectively and safely, from collection to consumption, as well as how to properly use the constructed pit latrine and keep it clean. The community has also agreed to contribute one Birr/month ($0.07 USD) per household for costs such as maintenance and protection.