It is the women and girls that need to go and find water. Due to the drought, it can take up to two hours of walking to find a source. Girls drop out of school, because they have to walk the whole day to fetch water for their families.
After walking for hours, the women and girls find a small water hole or a stream that still has water. The water is dirty. Livestock also drink from it. The water is full of their feces and excrements. “Little worms live in the water, that suck the blood out of your mouth. Drinking water from an unprotected source made us very ill. Diarrhea and vomiting are the most common,” explains Bosse, 40. Drinking contaminated water full of bacteria has serious health effects that can compromise the immune system severely, cause infections and sometimes even lead to death.
That is why it is crucial to have access to a protected water source. In water projects, CARE supports the communities by building wells and water pumps close to the villages. The area around the water pump is protected by the community. “We plant trees and other plants. With gabions we build barriers to control the water flow. No livestock is allowed to enter this area. Before we had this protected environment, we had enough water for a month. But now the ground water is rising, and we already have enough for six months. We understand the importance and will continue planting more trees to have enough water for the whole year,” explains Bosse.
“Having access to water changed our community. Women have less household chores and girls can go back to school and receive an education instead of fetching water the whole day. We changed our mindset. Now we treat the trees in the protected environment like our children,”reflects Yalga, 70.
CARE also supports the community with filtrations systems to have access to clean water. “Now that we filter our drinking water, we reduced many illnesses and have fewer health center visits. We now know that we cannot drink the water without filtration. If we do, we will face a severe health challenge. I support my community by educating my neighbors and teach them how to build a filter with local material”, says Yalga.
Access to water is also very important for farmers. CARE helps farmers with a solar-powered irrigation system. Before Amsal’s fields were dry and she always faced the risk of losing her crops. Her fields are now supplied with enough water. “I produce twice as many crops as I did before,” the mother of seven children says, “It totally changed my livelihood. I eat three times a day instead of only twice and I can provide for my children’s education.”
Women and girls not only have to walk far to fetch water, but also firewood for cooking. Cooking on an open fire has a lot of health issues when breathing in the smoke. “Especially the children suffer, and it burns in the eyes,” says Enaneya, 35. With a special energy-saving stove there is only a little smoke, and less firewood is needed. “We save a lot of money, decrease deforestation, and protect the environment like this. I can cook five times as many meals with the same amount of wood.”
CARE provides training for women and teaches them how to build these energy-saving stoves. They then build and sell them in their community and have their own business. Aster, 40, is one of six in this village who have received such a training by CARE. “With the sale of the stoves I am able to support myself and my family. I can pay for the school of my children, and I was able to buy them clothes and even some sheep. Over the last four years we made around 500 stoves and sometimes even sold ten per day,” says Aster.
The communities in Ethiopia are living with the effects of climate change on a daily basis and they are facing many challenges such as the current drought. Together with CARE they work on solutions to protect the environment and to face the impact that climate change has on these communities.