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The gift of clean water

CCFC’s Mark Lukowski visits reservoir project and water kiosk in Ethiopia

By Mark Lukowski
CEO, CCFC

The arid, dusty roads of the rural Arsi Negele District in Ethiopia can be overwhelming. There’s dust as far as the eye can see, and sweltering heat is ever present. So on the road to a water-reservoir project Christian Children’s Fund of Canada spearheaded with the Oromia Bureau of Water Resource, German Agro Action and local partner, Bole Bible Baptist Church, I eagerly anticipated cool, clean water.

When we got to one of five reservoirs that moves water from a spring in the mountains to more than nearly 100 distribution points through a 220 km-pipeline, I was humbled by the engineering achievement.

Water is pumped from a spring in the mountains before being fed to villages below. A series of kiosks provide surrounding communities with access to fresh water. No wells can be dug in these communities, because the water supply is full of fluoride, which can harm teeth and bones when present in large amounts. Families pay a flat tariff for water as well as a user fee — to pay for maintenance — contingent on how many water bottles they take with them.

The Arsi Negelle district community, together with the government, organized a Board to manage the water supply system, which is accessible by more than 130,000 people. Unfortunately, although the pipeline originally ran at nearly 20 litres per second, due to shortages from a national drought, it’s now running at approximately seven litres per second. This has resulted in shortages and rationing; at times the kiosks have no water.

It’s estimated water pumps and a pipeline from a new source could be installed for more than US$1 million. All we need is a willing donor to help address this need.

Photo by Philip Maher