©InfoEthiopia's major health problem is the spread of disease caused by poor water and sanitation. These issues are made worse by a shortage of medical staff and health facilities. An Ethiopian Red Cross Society programme is improving health and sanitation for 130,000 people.
Only 44 per cent of the general population has access to safe drinking water. In rural areas, that drops to just 34 per cent (WHO/UNICEF March 2012). Water quality is very poor and often contaminated by human and animal waste. More than 60 per cent of the population do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities (WHO/UNICEF March 2012).
With millions of people unable to access safe water and sanitation the impact on the health of communities is shocking – an estimated 54,000 children die each year directly from diarrhoea and 217,000 more die from related illnesses, such as malnutrition, pneumonia and malaria (UNICEF February 2012).
In 2009, the Ethiopian Red Cross Society and the British Red Cross began a water and sanitation programme which will run until at least December 2012. We are helping 18,525 people in the following regions, which are particularly remote and hard to access:
- Tigray regional state
- West Gojam zone
- Arsi zone
Building on experience
©InfoFrom 2002-2008, we supported an Ethiopian Red Cross Society water and sanitation programme in Oromiya region, which was successfully handed over to the communities at the completion of the programme.
Building on the experience gained in Oromiya, the current programme is:
- improving access to sustainable and safe water supplies and sanitation facilities
- increasing communities’ understanding of the link between sanitation and diseases
- building the skills and knowledge of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society staff and volunteers in Arsi and West Gojam branches – so they are better equipped to provide water and sanitation support.
Working with the community
©InfoWorking closely with communities is essential to the success of the programme. This means taking the time to talk through what they need before final decisions are made.
It is important that the community has a sense of ownership of the project so it will have to provide some materials and labour for construction of wells and latrines.
Water committees, formed of community members, are trained in how to maintain the facilities. In the process local people are consulted and their knowledge and skills are used. A community fund ensures repairs can be paid for.
We are also training volunteers in health care and first aid. This involves working with communities to identify, address and reduce major health problems, including:
- accidents and injuries
- personal and environmental hygiene.
Use our assembly for primary schools about water and hygiene
Last updated June 2012