From the Field

Safe Water Gave Baby Robira a Future

Published May 3rd, 2017 in From the Field

When Ayantu had her first child, her heart overflowed with thankfulness. So she named her baby boy Robira, which means “from God.”

Like all mothers, Ayantu wants her baby to be healthy and happy. But diseases from unsafe water made life difficult for Ayantu and little Robira. Because they didn’t have reliable access to safe water, many children in her village suffered from diarrhea, which leads to dehydration and malnourishment.

On top of that, mothers like Ayantu in the rural hills of southern Ethiopia have to walk long distances to collect water each day–some as far as five miles. That time away from home and work leads to a cycle of poverty that traps families for generations.

Creating a Healthy Village

But something changed for Ayantu. Her village worked alongside Lifewater to learn healthy habits. They committed as a community to make changes. Today, all 30 households in her village are Healthy Homes, which means 30 families are now using safe water, washing their hands, using a latrine and keeping things clean.

Ayantu says she’s most excited about the latrine because it offers privacy, has no smell or flies, and it is safe. Now, Robira and his family are healthy. “There is no sickness anymore,” exclaims Ayantu.

Building a Safe Water Well Together

The final step of a Lifewater project is installing a new water source. We’re committed to creating lasting change, and that means building something WITH the community rather than just FOR the community. The UN estimates that between 30%-60% of wells fail in Sub-Saharan Africa–but a recent survey in Uganda showed 94% of Lifewater wells built in the past decade are still operational. A significant reason for that success is the local water committee. Villages create water committees to manage the water source, collect fees and plan for repairs. Ayantu serves as the cashier for her village’s water well.

“Being part of the committee is being part of the solution to our problems,” she says. “And that makes me happy.”

Clockwise from top: Ayantu and the VP of the water committee in front of their well, West Arsi WASH facilitators, the hills of southern Ethiopia, Ayantu in front of her latrine.