Ethiopian Red Cross society, in partnership with Austrian and Swedish Red Cross and funding from the European Union Austrian development agency and SIDA have started implementing a five year water and sanitation project in Benishangul Gumuz Region Asossa and Mao Komo Woreda. Even though the project has started its implementation phase in May 2012 it has started implementing major project activities that already benefits the community. One of the major project activities being conducted is the rehabilitation of non functioning water points in the intervention area..
Water points to be rehabilitated were identified through assessment conducted by the project engineer in April 2012. The assessment was conducted for 50 water points in thirteen Kebeles in the two Woredas. During the assessment type of problems of each water points were identified and classified into problems of spare part, problems related to water quality i.e. bad odor and test and problem related to dry well. According to the classified problems solutions were sought for each problems some requires minor and major maintenance some needs increase in depth and some won’t be rehabilitated because of bed rock formation.
Based on a thorough technical assessment the identified works were initiated swiftly. The rehabilitation work was contracted out to local craftsman and the project team provided the materials needed for rehabilitation including generators and dewatering pumps.
The rehabilitation of water points started in July 2012 is currently undergoing. Currently works have been completed at seven water points in seven different Kebeles. The water points earlier constructed by the government and other organizations were falling into disuse after not functioning. The rehabilitation works are closely supervised by the RC engineer.
The rehabilitation works range from changing spare parts to complete change of pumps and increasing depths. The community contributes to the work by providing labor and locally available construction materials like sands and gravel. The first step is always dewatering and cleaning of the well followed by the other works necessary. Finally the well is cleaned repeatedly and chlorinated repeatedly before the water is finally tested for quality and the well is handed back to the community. All eight water points rehabilitated so far are functioning well and communities have happily started using them again.
During our visit the community expressed their satisfaction and pleasure because of the rehabilitation work. Ato Sete Kasaw Vice Sdministrator of Amba 14 Kebele in Assosa Woreda expressed : “The rehabilitation was conducted in best quality because the engineer from the project was always there following up the progress. Previously construction and rehabilitation was carried out by contractors and because of lack of follow up they defaulted immediately. The community is very happy with the work and has been participated in the process by providing sands and gravel and labor.”
In most of the Kebeles many villagers used to get water from unprotected sources and springs far away from their village’s. Mainly young girls had to walk long distance and spend considerable time every day to fetch water according to Rehamt Benti Health extension work from Zeiba Kebele in Mao Komo Worda: “The community is very happy with the rehabilitation previously they use to travel up to one hour to springs to fetch water now the water is pure and nearby”
The use of clean and safe water will greatly contribute to the improvements of life in the future. Women and children are benefiting the most as they are usually the ones responsible to fetch water from far away. Children are most affected by water born diseases in an area in which child mortality is still high. Ato Abedruhaman Gendeba Water Committee chairman in Mimi Kebele Mao Komo woreda said: “The community used to travel 40 minutes to get water from springs and had to cue up 2 to 3 hours. The community is happy that the water point is rehabilitated.”
During monitoring visit in Zeiba Kebele the monitoring team was faced with a challenge that is mentioned by the Kebele Chairman Babkir Gama Kebele Administrator: “The water point recently rehabilitated is not giving service to the community and people still prefer to use the spring nearby”. On the way to the mentioned water point for further investigation, the team met women bringing water from the further away spring and requested them why they are not using the rehabilitated water point. They explained that they were prohibited by the local administration to do so. Since we were accompanied by a senior representative of the local administration, argument ensued between the local administration and the woman. It turned out that the yield of the well was deemed to be to low by local authorities to serve all communities in its vicinity, which led them to restrict access. After checking the yield of the it became clear, that after the rehabilitation the yield had gone up considerably and the well was now giving sufficient water to be accessed by all surrounding communities.
Each rehabilitated water point serves an average of 50 households. Beyond participating in planning and executing the rehabilitation works, community members are going to be empowered to run the management of the water points through capacity building trainings provided by ERCS staff and volunteers. The first Water Committees have been established. Over the coming 4 years the project team will continue to work with these committees to ensure that they will be able to maintain the functioning of the wells based on their technical knowledge and a well established fee collection system.
Story and Photograph by Dagim Demirew Assefa,
Senior Planning Monitoring and Communication Officer,
ERCS Benishangul Gumuz Branch