45 families (about 270 people) living in the administrative unit of Godda Walliyye (Oromia region) around the Garfassa spring did not have clean water for drinking, cooking, washing dishes and washing hands until 2021. Residents had to transport water long distances or use contaminated local water. Drinking water for livestock also had to be hauled from faraway places, which was not only an enormous physical burden but also a time-consuming chore, especially for women and children. The lack of clean water was a cause of waterborne diseases, which increased the rate of illness, especially among pregnant women and young children. Many girls had limited opportunities to go to school or do their homework because they had to spend a lot of time fetching water from faraway places. Water transport also required women and girls to walk in deserted areas, which exposed them to repeated sexual harassment.
The construction of a spring catchment with a connected water tank was to significantly improve the supply situation of the people in Godda Walliyye.
The project began with the formation of a water committee that worked to mobilize local resources and engage residents during project implementation, ensuring clear communication between the community and WaterFoundation‘s implementing local project partner. The water committee has seven members – five men and two women. Through these projects, women in particular are encouraged to play a role in the committees to create further development opportunities for them in their communities.
The spring was enclosed with a small brick structure and closed off at the top. The water is stored in a 4 m3 tank, which also serves as a water tapping point. The tank was fenced off by the residents to protect the area from animals and to be sure that all persons collecting water paid the user fees. All the simple work was done by community members as part of their commitment to the project.
A large sink was constructed near the tank where clothes and materials can be washed by the community. A separate washing facility for these purposes reduces water transport and also prevents contamination at the water intake point.
Following construction in February 2021, there was a one-month testing period to ensure all components were functioning properly. At the end of the month, the final training was held with the water committee to build up capacities in technical management, financial management, and water sanitation. The District Office of Water, Minerals and Energy is responsible for hiring technicians to make repairs as needed, as well as playing an advisory role on finances, maintenance and other matters. The representatives of the district office were involved in the training activities to build the relationship between them and the members of the water committee.
All proposed project activities were successfully completed, and the project has been providing residents and their livestock with sufficient clean water since March 2021. Long-term improvements in health are also expected through this project.
The project was originally intended to benefit 45 families or 270 people. However, due to unexpected circumstances, the number of beneficiaries is much higher, at least in the short term.
Godda Walliyye is located 2.5 kilometers from the district town of Gedo, which commissioned a new water supply system two years ago. Unfortunately, this major project was only in operation for a few months, so there was not enough water to meet the needs of the population. As a result, many residents in the western part of the city have gained access to the new Godda Walliyye water point, which is a more reliable source than the Gedo city water supply. Although these people were not scheduled as permanent beneficiaries, they will likely continue to use the Godda Walliyye source until repairs are made to the city water system. People from Gedo carry the water on their backs, on horse-drawn carts or donkeys, and some businesses come in trucks to buy water from the spring.
Due to the increased demand, the opening hours of the water point have been extended. The water committee has decided to employ a person to monitor the spring and water sales 12 hours a day to ensure that water user fees are paid properly and that all infrastructure is treated with care.
Because some of the people who transport water by horse-drawn cart or truck serve multiple people, it is difficult to calculate an accurate number of beneficiaries at this time. The supervisor asks them how many people they transport water for in order to make a calculation. Currently, there are an estimated 1,800 beneficiaries. It has not been necessary to restrict the number of users because the spring has sufficient water. About 60,000 liters per day could supply up to 3,000 people in a rural area. In this respect, the project has made it possible to provide an important service to a much larger group than originally planned. Despite the increased number of users, the water is sufficient to allow regular irrigation of the fields, which will lead to higher crop yields. This is expected to bring additional income and food security to the families.
Sustainability is a central theme in all WaterFoundation projects, which is ensured through a number of measures. First, meetings with residents before the project began ensured that people understood that the project “belonged” to them and that they would need to take care of it during and after construction. Another important measure was the active participation of local people in project implementation. This included unskilled labor as well as training and selection of water committee members. When local people feel engaged and involved, it strengthens their sense of ownership of the project. The water committee received training and support to enable them to oversee the new infrastructure and its maintenance. Finally, water user fees were set in consultation with city officials so that they would be affordable while still providing a regular sum of money that could be set aside to cover any repair or maintenance costs needed in the future.
The implementing partner on site was the Environmentalists Development Association – Ethiopia (EDA-E), which was founded in 2006 by committed Ethiopians. Since then, WaterFoundation has successfully cooperated with EDA-E in the implementation of water and sanitation projects in Ethiopia. EDA-E’s portfolio of watershed, water supply, well construction, sanitation and water transport projects has brought about many positive changes for over 50,000 people in the central west and south of Ethiopia.