Success Story from Eritrea: "Water for Life"

Success Story from Eritrea: "Water for Life"

eritreaFor most, our morning ritual isn’t complete without a hot shower. We don’t worry about the quality of water in our coffee maker. We never think twice about the water it takes to flush a toilet or wash a car. But in Bambi, a village of over 400 in the East African country of Eritrea, water is a treasured resource, never far from the mind of most villagers. For over four years now, a terrible drought has plagued the country, weakening children and livestock, exhausting the women who walk farther every dry season, and stripping the land of its productivity.

CHF International, together with its local partner Haben, implemented the Eritrea Self-Help Enhancement Program (E-SHEP) with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from May 2003 to August 2005.

During the life of the project, E-SHEP assisted more than 25,000 people in drought and war-affected communities throughout the Anseba and Debub regions, to improve access to potable water, increase food security, and develop strategies for combating the drought situation in the future.

Nobody knows the value of water better than Bambi resident Senbetu Ogbagergish, a talented weaver, 50-year-old mother of 7 and grandmother of many who says, “Before CHF helped us repair our well, we were suffering. The children were unhealthy because we couldn’t wash them and we were tired all the time from walking to get drinking water.”community leader in Bambi, Ertirea

In 1998, when severe lack of rainfall lead to drought and famine in Eritrea, Senbetu and her community had to begin walking farther and farther from home to fi nd water for drinking and for their livestock. The situation became so bad that Senbetu and her children would have to walk for hours everyday through the mountains to the Anseba River to collect a meager 20 liters of water. Carrying the water on their back or by donkey, many children were too exhausted to attend school, herd animals became weak and sick, and there was no water for washing and basic hygiene. Even after the community built a dam and reservoir, the dry season depleted their reserves and left them walking for water again.

Senbetu is a member of Bambi’s community council which met with CHF International and requested assistance in repairing their community well, which for several seasons had failed to produce suffi cient water for the community’s needs. CHF International invested private resources along with gifts from donors to fund the project.

Now Senbetu says, “Things are getting much better. We can get water near our homes and we are so pleased with CHF’s help on this project. Our children and our livestock are healthy and clean. In the past we had to walk for four hours to get water and we still never had enough. Now we have water to drink, water to wash with, time to take our children to school, and finally time to weave again.”