Thanks to Earth Council Geneva’s generosity, International Medical Corps has completed a water point project in Gey Talt village, which is located in Menz Gera Woreda of North Showa Zone, Amhara National Regional State, Ethiopia. This project included drilling a new borehole and developing a natural spring. Together, we have helped close the inequality gap as the global community moves towards the goal of 100% access to clean water.
I. The Borehole
Gey kebele presents fundamental challenges related to gaining access to water. Hydrogeological and geophysical surveying indicate that the water potential is very poor as massive basalt and rhyolite rocks lead to 80% run-off during rainfall rather than to replenishing ground water, which could otherwise be tapped using wells and boreholes. Of 10 wells drilled from 60-to-250m depth in Gey kebele, four of them had a small yield, only one had 4 liters/second, at Mariam Erti, and five of them had to be abandoned. Natural springs, like Asfaw Spring (described below), can be developed alongside but they tend to recede and disappear during the dry season.
Based on the results of a special hydrogeological survey conducted within a 1.5 km radius of Gey Talt village in August 2018, International Medical Corps drilled a 148-meter deep borehole in the hopes of finding 3 liters/second yield. Such a yield would make piping water into the village possible. Unfortunately, the pump test revealed that the well had the capacity of only 1 liter/second.
In discussion with the zonal and woreda water bureaus, we recommended installing a solar-operated submersible pump, an 800m pipeline, water distribution points and a 15m³ fibreglass water storage tank to make this water available to the community, albeit outside of the village limits. The community has asked for additional piping for closer access. In the meantime, the borehole has sufficient water to serve 2,000 men, women and children. In collaboration with the government, International Medical Corps organized and trained a seven-member WASH Committee (WASHCo) consisting three women and four men to sustainably manage the water system when it is fully operational.
II. The Natural Spring
To further improve Gey Talt village’s access to water, International Medical Corps developed a natural spring known as Asfaw Spring at Amba Tig village with a masonry storage tank, 30m pipelines and six faucets. The water system currently benefits 500 men, women and children. We handed the spring over to the community in May 2019 following testing and disinfection.
III. “Soft” WASH Activities
The borehole and natural spring work took place within a larger WASH project funded by other donors that addressed the continuing need for basic sanitation services and hygiene programming in Menz Gera and Kewet woredas.
Community-Led Total Sanitation
International Medical Corps supported the health bureaus’ Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) program. Designed with the recognition that simply building latrines does not ensure their use, nor their impact on the health of a community, the CLTS approach focuses on establishing open defecation-free (ODF) communities by using community mobilization as a catalyst for behavior change. The principal component of the CLTS program involves a community coming together to create a map of its communal sanitation profile through observations of OD practices, and then analyzing the impact the practices are having on the community at large. Intended to ignite a collective desire for action and change, called “triggering” in CLTS, this activity also facilitates a sense of ownership of community health and hygiene issues, and lays the foundations for future investment in sanitation infrastructure and services.
International Medical Corps led a three-day CLTS training in Kewet woreda with 120 community participants, and 71 villages in Menz Gera woreda and 54 villages in Kewet woreda launched CLTS initiatives. Four kebeles in Menz Gera and Kewet reached ODF status at the end of a year, and we reinforced the CLTS initiative in Gey kebele by constructing or rehabilitating a total of 1,845 household and community latrines. We also introduced sanitation marketing, like we did in Damot Pulasa and Boloso Sore woredas of Wolayita Zone with the support of Earth Council Geneva in 2017-2018.
Improved Hygiene Practices
For many rural communities, the lack of knowledge of proper hygiene practices is a major contributor to the spread of disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that simply washing one’s hands with soap and water could reduce the deaths associated with diarrheal disease worldwide by up to 50%. In Gey kebele, International Medical Corps raised awareness of proper hygiene practices and distributed informational leaflets to complement the reinforcement of CLTS and the introduction of sanitation marketing within the targeted communities. At Gey Maryam Primary School, for example, we facilitated education among 812 students (368 girls, 444 boys) on personal hygiene, handwashing at critical times, solid waste management at school and at home, and safe water handling from the source to the household. To reinforce these messages, we also distributed 250 posters and 500 leaflets with information on safe hygiene practices at the school as well as at public gathering places and health posts.