While almost 93% of urban residents in Ethiopia now have access to safe drinking water, the same cannot be said for sanitation. Only 27% of urban households have adequate toilets. And fewer in rural regions. 

Fifty-seven year old Woinshet lives just outside of Addis Ababa. Together with five others, the family make their home in a rural farming village. The need for water and toilets is high in their village, yet not until recently were locals able to fund the construction of latrines or taps in their homes. 

Like millions of people across Ethiopia the main obstacle standing between the people in Yeka and safe water or a private toilet was access to the funds needed to build those solutions for their families. It is for people like Woinshet and her neighbors that Water.org created WaterCredit. Through financial institutions, small loans are made to individuals so they can fund their taps and toilets. 

Water.org has found that, when given a choice and an opportunity to pay for water and sanitation improvements over a reasonable period of time, women like Woinshet opt to finance long-term solutions versus struggle day-to-day to find that next liter of water, use a pay-per-use community toilet, or risk the danger of defecating in the open. And, once their solutions are in place, their lives change dramatically.

Woinshet received a loan to build a bathroom. She has a latrine now, and she is saving for her next improvement - a vent pipe for the toilet. After the vent, a water tap will complete her family’s bathroom facility. Like millions of others people who have taken loans similar to Woinshet’s to construct water taps and toilets, finally she can do more with her time. More than walk to distant fields to defecate, more than suffer from illness due to unsanitary conditions, and more than worry about her safety. 

This story was made possible by the Hilton Foundation.

Water.org no longer has active programs in Ethiopia. Learn more about where we currently work.