Waterlines has completed 35 spring-protection water projects in two separate provinces of Ethiopia, Gojam and Western Wollega, which supply clean water to an estimated 105,000 people. Clean water is a critical need in Ethiopia because most households obtain water for drinking and household use from heavily contaminated springs, ponds and streams.
Waterlines' first project in Ethiopia was the protection of the Abicho Spring near the community of Yismala-Jankit, Gojam province, in northern Ethiopia. The initial contact for this project was with Flavia Robinson, of the Daniele Agostino Derossi Foundation, who years earlier had befriended and supported Shimeta Ezezew, an Ethiopian school boy. Shimeta, now the graduate of a technical school, had organized a non-governmental organization for the specific purpose of constructing clean water systems. At Flavia's suggestion, Shimeta sent a proposal to Waterlines for funding the project. Following receipt of an engineering design for the spring development, Waterlines approved and funded the project with the help of a substantial contribution from the Daniele Agostino Foundation. Villagers contributed local materials and all of the hand labor
Upon completion, I traveled to Ethiopia to inspect the completed project for Waterlines. [Note: Bill, an engineer and Presbyterian minister, earlier worked in Ethiopia for more than a dozen years and speaks Amharic.]
This pattern was emulated in other Ethiopia projects: submission of a proposal by the community; Waterlines' approval of the design; construction, involving the community; and subsequent site-visits to the completed project. Needless to say, the completion of each spring protection project is cause for much celebration and results in an improvement in the health and other aspects of community life. A governing board of water users assures the maintenance and equitable distribution of the water.
An increasing number of spring-protection requests are coming to Waterlines from the Western Wollega Bethel Synod. Western Wollega covers a huge area inhabited by over a million people, where 200 villages lacking clean water have been identified and in which spring protection clean water projects are needed. There is a wide variety of ethnic, religious, and political populations in the area; and a valuable result of the projects is the bringing together of this great diversity of people in the spirit of cooperation that is required to construct, use, and govern the projects.