Emergency project in Ethiopia’s Somali region: water saves thousands of lives

In January 2019, the government of Ethiopia’s Somali region asked ZOA and partners to support people affected by a severe water shortage in Filtu area. By the end of April, 6.26 million litres of water had been distributed and thousands of lives saved. 

The situation the request rose from was critical: a few months before the start of the rainy season, the local population of Filtu area, in Ethiopia’s Somali Region, ran out of water. Inhabitants were left to survive on less than 2 litres of water per person per day. The severe water shortage, caused by a combination of a natural disaster, political reasons, and broken water pipes forced ZOA to take action immediately.

Water trucking

In the period between 22 March and 12 April, ZOA was able to provide 6,260m3 (6.26 million litres) of water to 34,319 people through water trucking. ZOA supported both the host community as well as internally displaced persons (IDPs). Everyone in the area was supplied with 5 litres of water per day. Moreover, ZOA focused on long-term solutions and prevention of future disasters.

“As we delivered water this morning, people told us about a woman delivering a baby yesterday without any access to water for her to drink during labour. She couldn’t even wash the new-born. Thankfully the mother and her baby are doing well, and must be happy to have water around today.”

The host community of Filtu area consists of more than 70,000 people. With some 30,640 IDPs added, by now 30% of the total population in the area is displaced. The influx of IDPs causes tensions between populations and puts a strain on available (and limited) water sources in the region.

People had to drink muddy water to survive.

Directly saving lives

Jessica Hedman, Grant Manager at ZOA Ethiopia: “The emergency project in the Somali region is a comprehensive and robust response. A quick roll-out was enabled by the timely and flexible funding of ZOA Netherlands and partners like TEAR Australia and, later, the US Government/OFDA (Rapid Response Mechanism) through their grant manager IRC (International Rescue Committee). The interventions are crucial enough to save many lives. Imagine women walking for several hours only to fetch 20 litres of very dirty water for their many children. Women fainting due to thirst. Fighting over water. Now the trucks supply water directly into people’s tanks via tap stands. The impact is tangible and life saving.”

This project was a collaboration of five organisations:

usaid2  IRC 2           CRS Logo 3     Concern Worldwide Logo 3   logozoa

Click here to read more about the programme in Ethiopia.