“We were drinking dirty water, but now we are drinking clean water.”
Kartuma Hassen’s statement sounds simple enough, but the road from dirty to clean wasn’t so easy.
When intense rains caused flash floods in Hassen’s community in Ethiopia in April 2018, many people lost their homes, their crops, and their livelihoods. The community well was damaged and the Weyb River, where they drew most of their water, was contaminated.
Humanitarian Coalition member Islamic Relief Canada (IRC) initiated a cash grant program so that households could make decisions about their own greatest needs and invest in food and shelter improvements as necessary. Hassen, as a mother of seven children, benefitted from the cash distribution, but there was still another major problem – the water.
“We are drinking dirty water,” she said. “We want something to purify our water. Our children are getting sick with diarrhea and other diseases.”
Fetching water from the Weyb River involved other threats as well. Hassen’s friend Sultana Shek Mohammed points out that children could not approach the river because of the crocodiles and the other animals that were drinking there.
With support from the Humanitarian Coalition and Global Affairs Canada, IRC responded to the urgent need for drinking water by repairing the well and disinfecting the water, as well as installing two large water reservoirs to draw water from the river, purify it, and dispense it through a system of pipes and taps, far from the crocodiles and other dangers.
As a smiling Hassen demonstrates by raising water samples from the river and reservoir, the work was with it. “Now we are drinking clean water.”
Simple, maybe, but life-changing.