In struggling communities around the world, the burden of collecting water often falls to women and girls, meaning they miss out on work or school. But thanks to funds raised through the Walk in Her Shoes challenge, clean water close to home is helping to change this.
Asmarech is lucky that none of her children have died from drinking dirty water. Sadly, the same can’t be said for other families in her remote Ethiopian community. “It is very hard to watch people from your village bury their children,” says Asmarech. “I felt helpless and I feared it was only a matter of time until it would happen to me.”
Asmarech had every right to worry. Clean water was hard to access in her village and her children fell sick at least twice a month from contaminated water.
It was hard when her children fell sick. When the family had money, Asmarech would take them to the doctor. But often they had none, and Asmarech and her husband could do little else but watch over them, hoping they would get better.
Illness from dirty water affected the family in more ways than one. “When my children were sick they missed school,” explains Asmarech, “I [also] spent a lot of time caring for them, instead of working on the farm.”
Stories like these are common in Ethiopia, where around 43 per cent of the population lack access to clean water. The situation only gets worse in remote or rural areas where Asmarech’s family live.
But thanks to your support, the future is looking brighter for families like Asmarech’s. A few years ago, CARE began rehabilitating water points in the village, as well as building more than 460 new ones.
Water sources are just the start of a healthier future however. The long-term success of activities to improve access to clean water hinges on communities being actively involved in the process.
“People from my village helped decide where the wells should go,” explains Asmarech. “[They then] helped to build them and put rules in place to make sure they are looked after.”
The CARE-supported project also put an emphasis on including women and girls. While traditionally it is women and girls who miss out on work or school to collect water, they are often left out of community conversations around water collection.
CARE made sure women and girls were consulted during the development of the project. Women like Asmarech have also been appointed to a local water, sanitation and hygiene committee which helps maintain the water points and encourage good hygiene and sanitation practises.
For Asmarech, this is the first time she has taken on a leadership role in her community. Her responsibilities include collecting money from households to help pay for the maintenance of the water points.
While Asmarech once felt powerless to protect her children from deadly waterborne diseases, through the CARE-supported project she received hygiene and sanitation training. This, along with the improved water points, means she can now build a brighter and healthier future for the next generation.
“After CARE’s help we now have clean water,” says Asmarech proudly. “My children are no longer sick and the frequency of illness in my village has fallen.”