In 2005, Just a Drop partnered with the Scientific Exploration Society and the Rivers Foundation, and launched two expeditions to follow the River Beschillo to its confluence with the Blue Nile - using inflatables. From there the team continued down the river towards the border with Sudan. En route, the expedition identified a number of community projects that needed help, including the construction of several shallow wells, an education programme at a secondary school and assistance to the medical clinic at the town of Mekane Selam.
The Beschillo River is located in a remote part of northern Ethiopia, 80km northwest of Dessie and just over 300km north of Addis Ababa. Its source lies in the ambas (flat topped plateaux) of Magdala, Selassie and Fala. The streams around all three flow northwards into the Beschillo river system. The valleys and plains surrounding the Beschillo are now intensively cultivated; teff and sorghum are grown, while cattle and goats graze the slopes. Only a few trees remain owing to the huge demand for firewood and building materials.
Col John Blashford-Snell OBE - Hon President of Just a Drop - led the expedition, a follow-up to the first descent of the Blue Nile in 1968, which he also led. During the journey the team were beset with challenges. On one occasion, they were even held to ransom by armed shifta, who demanded money in exchange for allowing them to proceed down river. This was swiftly brought to a conclusion by the intervention of a squad from the Ethiopian Police Service.
At one point internal conflict within Ethiopia threatened to put paid to the expedition as a whole, but they battled on, reaching a successful conclusion at Sirba.
In all, the team were able to reinstall the electrical and water supply, benefiting over 8,000 children and adults in the area.
Project Sponsor: private donors
Date of project: October 2005