In the dry region of Tigray, North Ethiopia, Woord en Daad works together with several partner organizations and the ASAF foundation on a comprehensive water project. The aim: provide sustainable clean drinking and irrigation water to a million of people within five years, by setting up an independent water sector. By June 2018, the first project year has been completed. A good moment to look back and to look forward together.
Reaching a million people in five years
In April 2017, AFAS foundation donated the magnificent amount of € 900,000 for the first project year. In June 2017, we began. After three months of project preparation, the first results had been achieved. A selection of the achieved results: Six drilling companies were trained and together they drilled 40 new water points. Six maintenance companies were trained and together they repaired 215 water points. 17,333 people were informed about good hygiene. 493 (farmer)entrepreneurs were trained in agriculture and irrigation techniques and business. 58,699 people got access to drink or irrigation water. Nice results, you may think, but why is just drilling new water points not enough?
How a broken bolt can can shut down a water pump
In this project we work on system change within the water sector. Because a sustainable water supply is so much more than functioning water points alone. Imagine: an organization drills for water and installs a water pump in a village. The organization leaves and the pump is working well. But after a year a small bolt breaks. Around the village a similar bolt is nowhere to be found, and nobody can repair the pump. Result: the pump remains out of order because of a lack of infrastructure to keep the pump running. IRC, an international think-tank, knows how to communicate this effectively: ‘To equate a water pump with a sustainable water supply is like equating a propeller with an airline’.
Market mechanisms in the water sector
That is why in this project we work sector wide, creating a market in the water sector. Drilling companies are put together and trained to drill water points. Maintenance companies are trained on how to maintain and repair water points. All needed materials are produced locally and delivered by local suppliers. Water committees are trained in financial and technical management of the water systems. The local government is involved through supervision and facilitation. And end users pay for their water to keep the system alive. The first results are promising although there were setbacks as well. For instance, in some places the drilling companies could not get through a layer of hard soil while drilling water points. But we learn from that and we anticipate on it. Project manager Yemane from Ethiopia can confirm it. ‘The first year was both challenging and instructive. We are going to use learned lessons to make true our dream of reaching one million people with clean water.’
A new year, new opportunities
AFAS also supports the second year of this nice project and donates another € 950,000. In the second year we are going to commit ourselves among other things to extending and professionalizing of the drilling and maintenance companies, to construct and repair more water points near schools and hospitals among other places, and to involve the government at a larger scale in water management.