Lifewater expands to reach more people with the opening of its first field office.
Ethiopia – Today Lifewater opened its first international field office in West Arsi, Ethiopia in order to deliver water, sanitation, and hygiene to more underserved communities in the region. Staffed with eight Ethiopian professionals, the office oversees the implementation of programs reaching tens of thousands of vulnerable children and families each year.
The international field office, Lifewater’s first in 38 years of operation, increases the organization’s capacity to scale up successful programs and reach new communities that remain underserved because of their geographical remoteness or lack of political influence. The West Arsi field office staff of four men and four women includes water, sanitation, and hygiene specialists as well as an accountant. All staff work under the direction of Zerihun Hailu, the Ethiopia Country Director.
“Our staff are from this area and have a lot of experience in WASH promotion and implementation,” says Hailu. “They will be visiting households every day, earning the right to speak with families about practices that can help save their lives. It is their profession and their passion,” He points out that that the Ethiopian field-based staff are the first to implement real-time monitoring systems that allow for more flexible and comprehensive programs, reaching every household.
“We will continue to work alongside national NGOs as we have been doing for decades, but the ability to manage and directly implement programs with Lifewater national staff helps us reach more people, more effectively,” says Dr. Pamela Crane-Hoover, Lifewater’s VP of Global Programs, adding that Lifewater will continue its work with DAASC, a long-time national partner, in some regions in Ethiopia. Crane-Hoover explains that this new field office-based model helps Lifewater bring WASH coverage to more households within each region as well as capitalize on discipleship opportunities.
Studies show great progress toward WASH coverage in Ethiopia in the past 25 years, with a 63% decline in open defecation over that time and a 44% increase in safe water coverage. However, high proportions of rural populations, and millions of people, remain without any safe water or improved sanitation, contributing to high rates of infant, child, and maternal mortality rates as well as heavy burdens of water-borne diseases and preventable diarrhea in these areas.
Lifewater’s field staff are targeting households in the Kokosa, and Nensebo woredas (districts) in the West Arsi, or Mirab Arsi, Zone, which covers areas of southern-central Ethiopia. Each woreda includes over 100 communities and thousands of households. Over the next few years, Lifewater field staff will be helping to reach vulnerable children and families to help build household and school latrines, handwashing stations, and other hygienic practices to prevent common diseases that currently keep children out of school and adults out of productive labor. The programs also includes installing or rehabilitating 82 water points, including wells and protected springs.
Justin Narducci, Lifewater’s President/CEO, claims this field office is the first of several to come over the next few years. “There is too much at stake not to take on the current challenges with the full extent of our power for local capacity-building and management. We are using a host of new tools to implement programs on a greater scale while at the same time going deeper into each community. Lifewater is committed to people, and this new office of experienced staff are equipped to reach every household and help them in a relationship that includes, respects, and demands everyone’s participation.”
Lifewater will open its next field office in Kaliro, Uganda in January 2016.
Lifewater International is a non-profit Christian water development organization dedicated to effectively serving vulnerable children and families by partnering with underserved communities to overcome water poverty. With experience in more than 40 countries since 1977, Lifewater serves people of all faiths, focusing on contextually appropriate water sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) development. For more information, contact Christine Zurbach (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit www.lifewater.org. Lifewater International is based in San Luis Obispo, CA.