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Water Crisis in Ethiopia: Schools, Children and Safe Water

How one village in Ethiopia is doing whatever it takes to bring water, health, and hope to their community.

The Opportunity

The water crisis in Ethiopia is severe, but one village is doing whatever it takes to bring water, health, and hope to their community. The parents in Kajima, Ethiopia have gone to great lengths to give their children the education that they never had. They built the local school with their own hands, classroom by classroom, with sticks and clay, starting with the first grade.

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The Obstacle

But there’s still a big problem. There is no safe water or sanitation in Kajima.

Water Crisis in Ethiopia Dirty Water

Safayi Adola, the school’s director, tells us that each student misses 20-40 school days per year because they are sick with water-borne diseases like diarrhea. He explains that because Kajima is located in an an arid region, they often experience “dry years,” which means the kids miss several months of school because their families are constantly searching for water. With all this time away from school, the local children are forced to repeat an entire grade every few years. After a heavy silence, a father says,

“Our children are balebet hid – they are running in place.”

The Progress

Despite this setback, the parents’ persistence is paying off. Before the government sent professional teachers, the parents and community leaders took turns teaching the subjects they knew. Today there are five full-time teachers and 200 students. Later this year, they will build a new classroom for Kajima’s first class of sixth-graders.

Water Crisis in Ethiopia Schools

But Safayi Adola continues, “There is no latrine for the students or the teachers. They have to go out in the bush. This creates a problem for the girls and they won’t attend school during their menstrual cycles.”

The Work Ahead

The water crisis in Ethiopia affects so much more than needing clean drinking water – it prevents children from continuing their education. The parents in Kajima are willing to do whatever it takes to keep their children in school. This year, they’re working with Lifewater to get a reliable source of safe water in their community as well as latrines and handwashing stations in homes and at the school. Their dream is to give their children the opportunity for growth and fulfillment through education – something they didn’t have, but for which they have already sacrificed much.

The Reward

With the health and stability that water and sanitation will bring to the children of Kajima, they won’t be running in place anymore. They’ll be sprinting ahead.


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