The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has a population of over 82 million people, making it the second largest nation in Africa; it also ranks as Africa’s fourth largest country by land area. It has a rich cultural and religious history but is, sadly, more commonly known for drought, famine and conflict.
Ethiopia – which has Africa’s second biggest hydropower potential – is the source of over 85% of the total Nile water flow and contains rich soils. Despite this, water and sanitation coverage is amongst the lowest in the world. 31% of households have access to safe water, and only 18% have access to sanitation facilities.
Water quality is another major problem, as evidenced by frequent outbreaks of water related epidemics in both rural and urban areas. Contamination of water supplies by cattle dung and human excreta is frequent and high fluoride levels in water are a particular problem in the Rift Valley regions of the country. An estimated three-quarters of the health problems of children originate from the environment.
Low levels of water and sanitation coverage also have important social implications. Women and children spend several hours every day fetching water. The time spent fetching water could be used to care for children in the home, rest or employment in income generating activities. For girls, the task of carrying water combined with lack of sanitary facilities in schools often stands in the way of their education and travelling long hours to remote sources exposes girls to increased rates of abduction and rape.
Just a Drop’s first project was in Ethiopia – in 1998. To date we have completed five further projects across the nation.