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Waterfall Project completes clean water initiative in Ethiopia

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Charitable initiative Project Waterfall tells Global Coffee Report about its latest attempt to provide clean and sustainable water in Jabi Tehnan, Ethiopia.

The independently registered charity, Project Waterfall, works to end the water crisis in remote and rural coffee-growing areas.

Its mission is to unite the coffee industry to give back to coffee-growing communities by investing in sustainable drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects.

Waterfall project manager Rebecca Hodgson said her recently completed project in the Jabi Tehnan Woreda region of Ethiopia has been successful in improving the region’s water quality.

“Our project in Jabi Tehnan in three villages in Kebeles started in the summer of 2018 and was completed in June 2022, so it took just under four years to complete,” says Hodgson.

“Ethiopia is considered the biological and cultural home of coffee, with coffee cultivation alone providing income to over 15 million people across the country. However, Ethiopia is one of the countries most struggling with the water crisis.

“The Jabi Tehnan Woreda region has one of the worst drinking water and sanitation coverage in the country, in part because it is an extremely rural area. Disconnected areas like this often struggle to receive help to build and maintain a resilient water supply system, which is why we have prioritized this project. »

In collaboration with the international non-profit organization WaterAid, Project Waterfall has used its extensive knowledge of how to plan and deliver resilient water supply systems.

“When carrying out these projects, it is so important to do so in collaboration with the local community and the government. Partnering with WaterAid means we can make the most of the relationships that are built, so we know these projects are creating a lasting positive impact,” says Hodgson.

“While WaterAid uses its expertise to bring about change on the ground, we have used our connections within the coffee industry globally to raise as much money as possible to transform the lives of workers who grow our coffee Our teamwork means that the community of Jabi Tehnan now has access to safe drinking water as well as public showers and toilets.

Thanks to a community of supporters, Project Waterfall was able to provide improved access to safe water supply to 10,571 people and increased access to improved and basic sanitation to 10,416 people. The initiative also increased hygiene knowledge, skills and awareness for 10,571 people.

Bizuayehu Anteneh says life without access to clean water is now a distant memory for her and her family.

Prior to this project, access to clean water was a daily struggle for the community, with women and children having to walk long distances and queue to fetch water that was not clean. Now students and staff at the local secondary and primary school have access to proper toilets, shower and hand washing facilities.

Bizuayehu Anteneh, a 45-year-old mother of five, lives in Addis Alem village in Mankussa Abdogoma Kebele in Jabi Tehnan. She says access to clean water has had an incredible impact on her and her family.

“Thanks to the water that is installed near our house, I can now use my time efficiently, take care of my family’s hygiene and be energetic. This is what I was looking for and now I live a happy life,” says Anteneh.

Alongside countless mothers living in this rural area, Anteneh used to walk for 20 minutes every day to fetch unsafe water from a nearby spring. Her family needs eight jerry cans of water a day to stay hydrated, do household chores and stay clean, and Bizuayehu was only able to collect and carry three. Today, Bizuayehu and his family can easily retrieve and use the eight jerrycans they need daily.

“I am a member of the Women’s Development Association. We ensure that water taps are working properly and are managed safely. We teach our children to stay away from taps and away from livestock at the same time. We are very lucky to have this facility in our village and we will keep it safe as much as possible,” says Anteneh.

Through WASH training provided to health extension workers and local government officials, and the establishment of water supply committees, Hodgson says the newly constructed facilities will remain climate resilient and properly maintained.

“Ensuring that our projects have a lasting impact is very important to us. As a result, education always plays a huge role in the success of projects, including this one in Jabi Tehnan. The community was involved at all stages, from the initial planning to the physical construction,” she says.

Hodgson adds that Project Waterfall is committed to supporting those who make daily coffee possible and to ensuring a continuous supply of clean water, as access to WASH facilities is something many take for granted.

“When you bring clean water to a community, it changes everything. By working together, we can have a real and lasting impact on the communities that are so essential to our supply chain,” said Hodgson.

This article first appeared in the July/August 2022 edition of the Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.