International Rescue Committee (IRC)

World Water Day 2013: Safe access to safe water

Today is World Water Day. It’s an opportunity to spotlight the fact that many women and girls in crisis zones worldwide must trek miles every day just to reach clean water. And as they make this difficult journey, they often face the threat of sexual violence.  

This story comes from a remote region of Ethiopia on the Somalia border, where local residents share scarce water resources with hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees who fled drought and conflict at home:
Abdiya Abdi Mohamud remembers what it was like before clean water came to Bokolmayo.
Each day the 34-year-old mother of seven would set out from her village, in an arid corner of southeastern Ethiopia, on a round trip journey of more than nine miles across rocky terrain to collect river water. She traveled on foot or by donkey, sometimes filling her water jugs from ponds that appeared after seasonal rainstorms. 
Abdiya Abdi Mohamud in her small shop
Abdiya Abdi Mohamud, 34, in her shop in Bokolmayo, Ethiopia. Since the International Rescue Committee built a water system serving a nearby refugee camp and surrounding villages, she no longer risks a dangerous daily journey to collect water for her family.

Photo: Wakene Totoba/IRC
It could be a dangerous trip—Abdiya knows of women who were assaulted along the way—and it took precious time from other important tasks. Children missed school to help collect water for their families.

And for all the risk and sacrifice, the water they lugged back to the village wasn’t good. “It was salty and dirty,” Abdiya recalls. People became sick. 
All that has changed since the International Rescue Committee built a water system for a nearby refugee camp, with a pipeline branching out to Bokolmayo. Now Abdiya and nearly 4,700 of her neighbors in surrounding villages need walk only a short distance to turn on a tap.
Women collect water from taps installed by the IRC in Bokolmayo refugee camp
Somali women collect water from new taps the IRC installed in the Bokolmayo refugee camp. The water is pumped from the Genale River, more than 11 miles away, then treated and delivered through a pipeline to the camp complex and neighboring communities.

Photo: IRC
Now that she no longer spends several hours each day hauling water jugs, Abdiya has been able to add to her family’s income by running a small store selling soap, cosmetics and house wares. She also rents out two rooms as classrooms—and she is thrilled to see the community’s children back in school. And with the new water system, they’re in much better health. 
“We are getting pure water,” she says, “and there’s no disease.”
Read more about how the IRC is providing safe access to safe water in crisis zones
1 comment


I am realy proud of working

I am realy proud of working with IRC when I saw my fruit on this web page. I am very gratefull for those who contribute to come up with problem solving water system development. I took me one and half year to complete the whole system. we can say it very magic project IRC proud of it. Thanks, Wakene