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Ethiopia: what if the well dries up?

In response to the increased demand for water in Moyale district, southern Ethiopia, we visited some of the villages where the water situation is deteriorating most rapidly.

As we drove along one of the worst roads I have seen during the dry season, we passed villages where we had supplied water through our water trucking programme.

We heard words of satisfaction, celebration, and blessing from the communities there.

Even though we know that Save the Children is the only organisation operating in this here, their kind words cheered us.

Thirsty children

We reached a village called Mubarak, near the town of Chilanko.

Although Mubarak was recently considered for our emergency water trucking, it was not prioritised due its many shallow wells.

However, we saw that the wells were now drying up.

We spoke to the local women about the situation: “We are desperate and have no water to give to our thirsty children.”

An eight-hour queue

These women wait their turn at the well for over eight hours, and even then only receive 20 litres of water.

What’s more, they don’t get their next turn for another three days.

One women said: “I am standing at this well since morning and it’s unlikely that I will be able to collect one jerry can of water after eight hours.

“Even if I am lucky, there are other mothers who didn’t get any water today. After I get back to my home, I will share my water with the other mothers.

“There are around 20 wells in this area, but most of the communal wells have dried up. A few wells that are owned by private individuals have some water but this is not enough and the wells are not accessible to poor women like us.”

Just water

The wells have dried due to drought. Usually these wells are refilled when enough rain is available.

It is not something that can be repaired, it all depends on the depth of the water table.

We asked, “What will you do if the well completely dries up, which is likely after a few more days?”

One woman said: “I don’t know; only God knows our fate.”

Although there isn’t enough food here, the elders and the mothers in the communities, request only water.

A dire situation

The situation is even worse in Hawaan and Galgalu. These communities are virtually inaccessible and are underdeveloped in terms of infrastructure and basic services.

People here feel insecure and worried about the future. One woman commented: “Our only hope is God and then Save the Children.”

These are the communities that deserve our fullest support at this particular time.

We could not promise anything to the community, we know the difficulties of funding for new water trucking.

On the first day of our journey, we were happy to hear stories about the success of the water trucking programme.

This happiness soon vanished when we saw the dire situation in other villages.

This blog was written by Mohamed Mamu, field programme manager, Moyale, Ethiopia.

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