The percentage of people that have access to water supplies and sanitation services in Ethiopia are among the lowest percentages in the world.
Only 24% of Ethiopia’s population has access to clean drinking water, and only 13% have basic sanitation services. This is partly due to the fact that 84% of the population is rural, living by subsistence farming, but even within cities it is very difficult to obtain these basic services.
Due to these circumstances, not only are thousands of people falling ill and dying daily from drinking contaminated water, but livestock are also affected, increasing the spread of disease and producing significantly less food for a people who are already starving. Waterborne illness is so rampant that many Ethiopians don’t even realize that they are ill, believing that things like diarrhea, fevers, and swollen bellies are normal.
A lack of water services also causes social problems, particularly pertaining to women. They often have to travel huge distances to fetch water, and consequently, many don’t have time to go to school or participate in the community.
The government promised several years ago to attempt to improve basic water services to 100%, starting in urban areas and reaching out into rural communities. The goal was to have this water and sanitation access available by 2012. As of 2015, the numbers have only climbed to 35% general water access, and remained a steady 13% access to sanitation services, most of which can be attributed to foreign aid and initiatives. The Ethiopian government does not have the ability to meet its goals on its own.
So how can we help?
Blessing the Children is seeking to meet as many water needs in our community as possible. Starting with having safe water available at BCI Academy and the BCDO office, we also purchase chlorine tablets to treat water for our Life Sponsored families, and try to increase awareness of the need for water sanitation and hygiene. With your help, there is so much more we can do! Below is a few ways we are seeking to improve access to clean drinking water in our community, and how you can help us achieve our goal of having readily available, safe drinking water for every one of our families.
Currently we are trying to have enough chlorine tablets available to treat water for all of our families. However, these Aquatab products can be very difficult to obtain, especially in bulk, and are often too expensive for our families to buy on their own. This is also a solution to the water problem we hope will be temporary, as we continue to seek more permanent solutions that don’t require constant purchases. If you are planning a visit to Ethiopia, you can choose to bless us by bringing the office a supply of these tablets, giving them as a gift (with instructions on use!) to sponsored families, or by donating towards the purchase of more Aquatabs. Although they are usually only a few cents per tab, buying a few hundred every couple weeks adds up quickly!
To find out more about Aquatabs, please contact us.
WATER SANITATION OR HEALTH EDUCATION CLASSES
One of the struggles in providing safe drinking water is a lack of understanding by Ethiopians themselves of the need for it. Many don’t realize it isn’t normal to be sick all the time, nor do they realize that their illness can be attributed to the water. Still others assume that as long as the water is clear with no visible dirt in it, that it must be safe to drink. Some of these beliefs and expectations can take a very long time to change, and often it takes several experiences of the difference in their health when they have safe water to finally convince them of their need for it, but it all begins with basic teaching. Teach a class on germs and parasites, hygiene practices like washing hands, or on easy ways to ensure your water is clean and safe. If you don’t know where to begin for creating a
curriculum on these subjects, CAWST has some excellent resources!
To find out more about providing teaching or resources, contact us.
HAND WASHING STATIONS
One of the things that leads to water contamination or waterborne illness – even when using safe practices for drinking water – is poor sanitation. There are many families that lack proper sewage drainage or have to share a toilet with up to 30 other families! If they continue to get sick due to illness spread by poor sanitation and hygiene, it may discourage them and cause them to believe that their safe water practices aren’t having any effect. Giving families a way to wash their hands is an easy and effective way to stop the spread of disease. Again, CAWST has some simple and effective designs for
hand washing stations you can set up for Life Sponsored families.
For more information about providing hand washing stations, please contact us.
BIOSAND WATER FILTERS
One of our most recent projects is the biosand water filter project. Together with Samaritan’s Purse’s design and blessing, and CAWST’s Ethiopian WET center’s resources, we hope to install a biosand water filter into every Life Sponsored family’s home, as well as have them available at the BCDO office, BCI academy, and our Loom Project warehouse. These filters are extremely simple technology, and last a lifetime with proper maintenance. The materials to make these filters is also very readily available, and they are quite easy to put together! What is a biosand water filter exactly?
Check out this video from Samaritan’s Purse! It is our hope that every mission team that comes in the next few years will be willing to purchase the materials for a new biosand filter, and will help us to assemble them. These filters are a much more permanent solution to the water problem, and are sure to help both our families and the general community a great deal.
To find out more about how you can help us give a biosand filter to every family, contact us.
The water problem can seem very overwhelming, but beginning with small steps like these we know we can make a difference in our community.
If you have other ideas for providing safe drinking water or sanitation services, we would love to hear them!
Being in a city, there are some things we may not be able to do without appropriate permits, but we are always looking for new initiatives and more effective methods to provide these basic, life giving services to the people of Debre Zeyit.