Every morning and evening, the village community collects clean water from tap stands constructed by NRC.

The humanitarian crisis has worsened in drought-stricken Ethiopia, with almost three million additional people in need of humanitarian aid this year.

8.5 million people are in dire need in Ethiopia due to worsening drought and a deteriorating food security situation, up from 5.6 million in January, according to the United Nations. Despite this, the international aid appeal for the country is only one quarter funded, nine months into the year.

“Civilians living in rural areas in the south and east of the country are the worst affected,” said Gabriella Waaijman, Regional Director of the Norwegian Refugee Council. “The nation is facing its worst drought in decades. 8.5 million men, women and children need immediate food assistance. We are calling on donors to urgently scale up the funding needed to meet the massive needs we are witnessing.”

The periodic heating event El Niño is in its third successive year of wreaking havoc on lives and livelihoods in Ethiopia. This has left the country among the most drought-affected countries of Africa.
Photo: NRC/Meftehe Mekonnen
Read caption Every morning and evening, the residents of Dhankarone village collect clean water from tap stands constructed by NRC, like the one pictured here. Photo: Mohamed Digale/NRC

A fresh refill in the morning

Mohamed Digale|Published 21. Sep 2017
In drought-ridden Ethiopia, new water stations are giving families clean water to drink and cook with.

As the sun rises over Ethiopia’s dry Bike district, the village of Dhankarore is already busy. By the time the water station opens at half past six, a long line of women and children have queued up, juggling a multitude of water jars and cans to purchase their share of clean water. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has built  two water points in the village, which sell clean water at 0.50 Ethiopian Birr – around two cents in USD – for 20 litres.

Drinking muddy water

Forty-eight-year-old Malayka Ali is one of the women who stands in the queue every morning. She does this gladly. Because before NRC constructed this borehole in her village, Malayka had to walk up to two kilometres to reach a shallow well. She did this twice a day. With the new filling station, she’s saving a lot of time and effort. It makes her life easier.

Malayka also notes a big difference in the water drawn from the borehole compared to the unprotected water source she used before.

“It had mud in it,” she explains. “When I drank it with my family we didn’t drink it wholeheartedly. Even the food prepared with it tasted bad.”

Her fellow villagers, their livestock and wild animals were all drinking from this source. But they didn’t have a choice. The thirst was overwhelming.

[The water] had mud in it. When I drank it with my family we didn’t drink it wholeheartedly. Even the food prepared with it tasted bad.

Building water infrastructure

Dhankarone is small village in central Ethiopia, home to around 750 local and displaced families, and surrounded by a large pastoralist community. The infrastructure is weak in this rural region, and the climate is hot and arid. Clean water and sanitation facilities are scarce.

As part of our water, hygiene and sanitation programme, in 2016 NRC drilled a deep borehole in the village and built an accompanying reservoir and two water points. To curb the spread of disease, in early 2017 our teams constructed communal latrines and extended the water supply to Dhankarone’s school. We also taught proper sanitation and hygiene practices, so villagers could take better care of their families and these new systems. The programme is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and SIDA.

Photo: NRC / Mohamed Digale.
Read caption Malayka Ali at her home. Photo: Mohamed Digale/NRC

Planning ahead

Malayka says her family purchases 80 litres of water a day on average, which they use for cooking, bathing and drinking. She feels that the water from the borehole is clean and healthy, and keeps an extra supply stored next to her house. Now she can see to it that her children stay hydrated, and that their meals taste as they should.

Tomorrow morning, she will take her jerricans and queue up again to replenish her supply.