Wuchale and Jidda are two woredas (districts) stretching across largely flat planes, dotted with little hillocks, in Oromia region.
The main focus of SUNARMA’s work here is to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for approximately 12300 people (2466 households) across 23 villages. This is predominantly done through the construction of hand dug wells. These wells involve whole communities coming together to lend a hand in clearing suitable sites, sourcing materials such as stones and digging the wells. SUNARMA supports communities through the provision of funds for some required materials such as cement and provides training and testing kits to water committees to ensure water points are well managed so that they can continue to provide safe water for years to come. SUNARMA also consults with local government water experts to ensure appropriate site selection and support with maintenance.
Since 2008 over 100 Hand Dug Wells have been constructed, with each well providing clean safe water for around 250 people. Many people from beneficiary communities have reported that the construction of a well in or near their village is the first time they have had access to clean, safe drinking water. Previous supplies generally consisted of unprotected springs which can easily be contaminated by human or animal waste leading to a number of gastrointestinal complaints. Regular monitoring of water quality by water committees at each water point and treatment with chlorine ensure supplies are kept safe.
Improving sanitation is an important element of any WASH initiative as clean water and better sanitation go hand in hand to improve overall health. SUNARMA uses community gatherings as an opportunity to share key sanitation messages such as the encouragement to use latrines rather than open defecation. To support sanitation improvements SUNARMA installed latrines at 4 primary schools in 2017. Individual families are also supported to install latrines in homesteads. These families then act as models for other families to learn the construction techniques required to build their own latrines. Slowly the use of latrines is spreading to more and more families. Ethiopia’s One WASH National Programme (OWNP) prioritises the elimination of open defection by 2023 and universal access to safe water services by 2030. Initiatives like SUNARMA’s are contributing to these goals.