After a Decade without Water, IRC Brings "Life" to an Ethiopian Town
A water system in the Western Ethiopian town of Kurmuk that hasn’t functioned properly for around 10 years is now providing clean drinking water to 900 households or about 4,200 people.
The project, jointly carried out by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and local government partners is now saving residents time and money, as well as providing safe drinking water.
“Prior to the rehabilitation of the water system, people in Kurmuk were traveling up to three kilometers to the nearby village of Horezeab to get safe drinking water and it was costing them 7Birr (about U.S 50¢) a container, which is remarkably expensive,” says Sisay Seyoum, the IRC’s deputy director in Ethiopia.
“Now Kurmuk’s water system is pumping potable water to the town center from a nearby dam and the cost per container has dropped to just 1Birr,” adds Seyoum.
Seyoum says that restoring clean water to the town is vital for good health and to prevent outbreaks of disease like acute watery diarrhea.
The overhaul of the old, rundown water system in Kurmuk included: erecting a new water tower, replacing and repairing existing water tanks and pipes, restoring the water filtration system, constructing a new generator house and installing a new generator. The existing system was also extended by almost 300m, to give access to new areas of the town.
“One of the most important aspects of the project was the involvement of the local community, including with the woreda (district) and the municipality,” says Seyoum. “Together we trained a local water management committee to be able to maintain the system in future. This is vital to ensure that the service continues in the long-run.”
The community is now using the money raised from each container of water to pay skilled mechanics to monitor the system, as well as for fuel for the generator and other running costs.
At a ceremony to inaugurate the new water system, Abdulkarim Yumid, vice administrator of Kurmuk woreda, expressed his appreciation: “The IRC has been with our community since 2004 and has solved many problems. I am thankful to the IRC.”
One elderly lady living in the town said: “The IRC has given us life today.”
The IRC has been working in Ethiopia since 2000, when it responded to severe drought in the Somali region. Today, we assist around 487,000 Ethiopians in the Oromia, Benishangul Gumuz, Somali and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regions with a variety of essential services, including water, healthcare and livelihoods.
The IRC also supports 112,200 refugees in six camps across Ethiopia, ensuring they have the essentials they need to survive, such as water, sanitation, healthcare, education and community services.