Ethiopia: For Clean Water and Sanitation

Photo by: Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger Ethiopia

When the rainy season ends in southern Ethiopia, women like Loko from villages in the Borena region make excruciatingly long journeys to fetch water for their families.

“I used to travel all the way to the top of the mountain and then all the way down to fetch water,” says the single mother of five children.

The 12-hour journey to fill a single jerrycan left her with little time to be with her children.

Despite the lengths Loko and other women travelled to collect water, it was contaminated — and it wasn’t nearly enough to support their family’s needs. Loko would ration water for food and drinking, which meant bathing and washing clothes were often out of the question.

Using contaminated water put Loko and her children at risk of an unending disease cycle and malnutrition. In addition, families like hers who experience water scarcity are vulnerable to forced migration, reduced economic activity and lower incomes, and physical risk while fetching water over long distances.

Knowing that access to clean water is essential for health and wellbeing, Action Against Hunger installed a new water point and a large reservoir in Loko’s village. Now, the community has continuous access to clean, safe water.

For Loko, this means she can bathe her children and wash their clothes. With her new-found time, she is picking up odd jobs and earning more money. Loko cuts wood to sell in the market and uses her earnings to buy food for her children.

She’s happy she finally has the time and energy to play with her children.

“[People] look at me and see that my face is shining, my children’s clothes are clean, we are not thirsty, and we have enough water to cook for ourselves,” Loko says.

Photo by: Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger Ethiopia

Globally, over 2 billion people live in regions experiencing high water stress. During crises and disasters, Action Against Hunger works on expanding water access to remote areas, repairing broken wells, and building water storage reservoirs and toilets. We also educate
communities on good hygiene practices and build local capacity to sustain long-term water and sanitation improvements.

With clean water and sanitation access, women like Loko can unlock economic opportunities, raise healthy children, and live dignified lives.

Photo from the left to right : Loko and her family in southern Ethiopia. Photo: © Peter Caton.