In an integrated rural development project the International Red Cross provided 49,000 people with clean drinking water and sanitary facilities in Mao komo and Asossa Weredas of the Benishangul Gumuz State.
The four years project, Boosting Integrated Rural Development (BIRD), was implemented in 38 Kebeles aiming to increase access to safe drinking water, basic sanitation and improved hygiene practices. The poor water and sanitation situation in the Mao komo and Asossa Weredas had disproportionately affected children and women, especially young children in primary schools presenting them with difficulties and keeping themselves clean and healthy.
The International Red Cross provided a funding of 60 million birr for the construction of 60 deep wells that supply clean water to 117 water points. Further, school children were coached to use 16 big toilets that were built in the schools compound.
“Adults and children were affected with diarrhea, malaria and different water-related diseases as we use the dirty water from the nearby river. But now, thanks to God, we have water. We drink safe water and our children are healthy,” said Reshid Abubeker who is a dweller of a rural district in Asossa.
Deagim Demere, BIRD chief executive officer, said that the project enabled the communities get clean water nearby their homes.
‟When the project began, the two weredas had less than 40 percent water coverage and people drink unsafe water. Some also had to travel very long distance to get water. But now, the weredas have 98 percent clean water coverage which greatly helps the people to have safe drinking water.’’
‟We don’t simply handover the water points. We get the villagers to form a committee that will teach the communities about proper hygiene and sanitation to raise awareness of the society.”
Though Mao Komo and Asossa weredas now have an almost full coverage of potable water, many remote weredas in the Benishangul Gumuz state still have poor sanitation conditions and households are forced to drink river water.
The BIRD project has been funded by the European Union, Austrian Development Agency and the Swedish International Development Agency.