Addis Ababa – Take a moment to imagine your everyday life without access to clean water. For Bekelech, a single mother to nine children, this has been her reality.
Due to the 2018 conflict in West Guji and Gedeo zones in Ethiopia, Bekelech and her family had to flee to a collective site for internally displaced persons (IDPs). Returning home meant new hope, but it also came with challenges, especially the lack of access to clean water.
“I had to walk far to reach the water source near an unprotected river. My children support me to collect water but to do so, they end up being late or missing school,” Bekelech laments.
In addition, hygiene and sanitation-related health problems were among the biggest challenges for her family because the water source was unsafe, especially for drinking.
Accessible clean sources of water are ever more crucial today as well-managed water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services are essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“As a disease prevention measure, many families were obliged to boil the water using local trees for fire. This has caused deforestation in the area,” says IOM Ethiopia’s Tabata Fioretto.
IOM developed a Gravity Water Supply System to deliver water to the community without energy consumption therefore causing no carbon emissions. The network was constructed without cutting a single tree during the installation of 1.7 kilometres of pipeline passing through the forest using flexible high-density polyethene (HDPE) pipes.
“We are truly grateful that now, we have access to clean water. My children can now focus better in school without having to worry about when the next trip to the river is,” Bekelech happily shares.
She is one of the more than 7,000 community members in the area who are currently benefiting from the new source of water supply.
IOM’s Gravity Water Supply System is a multi-donor funded project by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) the German Government and The Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).
This article was written by Kaye Viray, IOM Ethiopia's Media and Communications Officer
For more information about IOM’s WASH programmes visit the IOM website.