Lifewater Launches New Field Office in Bensa, Ethiopia
Office to support a three-year program serving over 50,000 people.
Beginning in October, Lifewater’s new office and dedicated staff in Bensa, Ethiopia will facilitate new programs in the region. Over the next few years, over 50,000 vulnerable children and families living in a very diverse region of Ethiopia will benefit from improved access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene education.
“This new office in Bensa allows us to reach deeper into the areas of Ethiopia that still lack the resources to break the cycle of extreme poverty,” says Justin Narducci, Lifewater’s President/CEO. “There are hundreds of communities eager to do everything they can to help their children grow up healthy, and we are joining them with the knowledge and resources to make it happen. Our team will walk alongside families in remote, underserved areas for as long as it takes to see them develop sustainable WASH solutions.”
Lifewater’s Bensa field office sits in the Sidama Zone of the South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region of Ethiopia. Sidama is internationally known for its coffee production, but many communities still lack access to safe water, improved sanitation, and good hygiene practices. Fewer than half of the people in Sidama have access to safe water; most collect it from surface water or hand-dug wells that are increasingly contaminated by industrial and agricultural wastewater. In Bensa, only 35% have safe water, well below national and regional averages. These water supplies are further threatened by ongoing drought. Only one in three schools has safe water or a latrine.
Over the next three years, Bensa-based staff will work with thousands of households to improve their health and outlook, using the Vision of a Healthy Village (VHV) strategy also used in other Lifewater field offices. The VHV strategy uses local talent, leadership, and participation to ensure the long-term effectiveness of the new WASH resources. Over 5,750 households will construct their own improved latrine, while Lifewater will help build eight blocks of latrines in four schools in the area. With the communities’ assistance through labor and material, Lifewater will also help build 85 new sources of safe water and rehabilitate an additional 14 sources in need of repair.
“Through increasing safe water access, sanitation access, and effective hygiene behaviors, this project will reduce incidences of disease related to poor water supply and sanitation, reduce barriers to school participation, and reduce workloads on girls and women in the short run,” says Lifewater’s Ethiopia Country Director Zerihun Hailu. “In the long term the program impact will avail girls and women the time to focus on education and activities that generate additional incomes and allow the communities to engage in agricultural and business development, thereby breaking the cycle of extreme poverty.”
The new Bensa field office will open on October 1st. During that first week, Lifewater HQ staff and volunteers will work with Ethiopian staff to train new Bensa field office staff members in mWASH and VHV.
Lifewater International is a non-profit Christian water development organization dedicated to effectively serving vulnerable children and families by partnering with underserved communities to overcome water poverty. With experience in more than 40 countries since 1977, Lifewater serves all people, focusing on contextually appropriate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) development. For more information, contact Christine Zurbach (email@example.com) or visit www.lifewater.org. Lifewater International is based in San Luis Obispo, CA