Lemmi – town without water


Lemmi is a dusty place. 5.000 people live there in the Ethiopian highlands. The inhabitants had 5 public water places at their disposal, fed by the town’s 50 m deep main well. But in the spring of 2009, the well suddenly dried up. The mayor of Lemmi had a geologist check the situation but he was not able to help. The ground-water level has fallen, he explained and shrugged his shoulders. Lemmi is situated on top of a tongue-shaped plateau 2.650 m high. There are neither rivers nor brooklets and hardly any ground-water.

Well springs have run dry

Since mid-year 2009, the people of Lemmi have three ways to get water. One is as unacceptable as the other. The first consists of an old well hole with brackish water that was used for the cattle. Now they mix it with ashes and filter the wet using cotton cloth. But the taste is hardly to bear and above all the children get sick. The second alternative is a water well built by Menschen fuer Menschen years ago. But, since the ground-water level fell some time ago, only 400 litres of water can be obtained per day. The people have to form long queues, and sometimes it takes days for them to fill their can. The third possibility is that the people march from the plateau down the valley for hours on end to shallow water rill and then back again to town.

Long tiring marches to fetch water

Tigist Bascha, too, has to get up between four and five every day to meet her neighbours to walk down to the water rill. When there is a long queue,  Tigist Bascha has to wait for a long time. The march back takes one and a half hour. If everything goes fine,  she comes back to the house by eight.

"Ten litres of water a day have to last for the whole family", Tigist Bascha says. Her husband Aschenawi Aiow (37), awaits her impatiently. He works as a civil servant for the town administration and hands over to her their daughters Besalot (4) and Massai (1) to leave for the office. Now, Tigist Bascha has to plan her day and see to her two children. All she has for cooking, rinsing, washing and drinking is a 10-litre can filled with water. 

Everywhere in Africa, it is the women and girls that are mostly hit by the lack of water. In many of the villages, they spend up to eight hours to fetch water. The World Health Organisation puts the labour input of the water carriers in Africa at 40 billion hours per year – which comes up to the working time of all people employed in France. What a waste of energy and lifetime!

"The imperative to save water rules the day", Tigist Bascha says. "Often I just spread our clothes in the sun instead of washing them, this helps a little against odours and vermin".
Her two children stand in one little tub when being washed, and then the water is used for doing the laundry. "The girls get a bath with very little water only once in ten days", the young mother says.

Separated from the family

When her sister-in-law came from the capital to pay a visit and saw that Tigist’s ten-year-old son Rädiet was covered in dust, she said: " I will take him to Addis Abeba with me, so that he can at least get a wash!". For half a year now, the little boy has been separated from his family. "It is hard but comforting to see that he can enjoy a better living there", Tigist Bascha says. As Head of the Water Committee, her husband Aschenawi Aiow contacted Menschen fuer Menschen to ask for help. "As long as we will not have water”, Aschenawi says, " we will not have a chance of development." The lack of water slows down the local economy. Instead of returning from nearby markets loaded with goods to sell, the farmers and their wives stack water cans on their donkeys’ backs. Time and money gets wasted to treat sicknesses caused by polluted water.

A new drilling hole that gives hope

Lemmi town had a 250-meter deep well hole drilled with the help of Menschen fuer Menschen and expert drilling equipment. The work was finished successfully last February. Now, the people of Lemmi start to dig  the ditches for the pipes. The ground-water from the new well will be pumped into a reservoir to feed ten new water places all over town. In autumn 2011, everything will be completed. 

"We train our people in water management. They will have to pay a minimum fee for the water so that the Water Committee will be able to do necessary repairs", says Martin Grunder, Project Coordinator of Menschen fuer Menschen. (See link for the interview). It is vital for this project and for a sustainable development that the people of Lemmi will be able to manage all infrastructure.

Because of the participation of the Lemmi people and a simple and functional technology, the total cost for the Lemmi water supply will be not more than 8,5 Million Birr (about 475.000 Euro). How successful this project will be proves the example of Alge town water supply, where Menschen fuer Menschen provided a similar infrastructure two years ago. 

CHF

Beneficiary:
Donations account:
Account Number 18180018
Bank Code 701 500 00
BIC SSKMDEMM
IBAN DE64701500000018180018
Donations account:
Account Number 18180018
Bank Code 701 500 00
BIC SSKMDEMM
IBAN DE64701500000018180018
Spendenkonto:
Postkonto 90-700000-4

Stiftung Menschen für Menschen Karlheinz Böhms Äthiopienhilfe, 8002 Zürich

IBAN-Code:
CH97 0900 0000 9070 0000 4
BIC SSKMDEMM
IBAN DE64701500000018180018
Lemmi