For many people living in Ethiopia, access to clean water is not available outside of cities. This means that people collect water from rivers and lakes and risk catching water-borne diseases such as cholera or typhoid.
Households may also boil water to sanitise it before drinking. Boiling water, although effective at removing impurities, brings other problems. For many households in Ethiopia and across Africa, the traditional three stone fire is used, emitting smoke and particulates into the family home which are devastating for eye and respiratory health. The three stone fires also burn wood or biomass. As the fires are open, the heat efficiency is lost resulting in more burnt wood that costs money and results in carbon emissions.
Allowing communities access to clean water helps manage all of these social impacts. A clean water project improves people’s health, reduces carbon emissions and allows women and children more time for work and education.
I was lucky enough to visit such a project last month supported by one of EcoAct’s clients and developed with carbon finance in partnership with local NGOs and communities.
The project rehabilitated and maintains 41 boreholes in the Arba Minch region of South West Ethiopia. Most of these boreholes have existed for some time but without the proper maintenance process and community engagement and ownership, they fell into disrepair.
The project focused on repairing the pumps and set about organising stakeholder engagement workshops to figure out how the community would manage the borehole maintenance. WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) committees were set up to ensure community access to the boreholes and run a micro finance agreement with users for small scale maintenance.
I had the opportunity to hear first-hand the difference that this project has made to people’s lives.
The women on the WASH committee told us that the access to cleaner water has a direct impact – healthier families. There is less disease and fewer visits to the health centre. We also heard from women that cleaner water means people use less wood and ultimately have more time as they collect water from the boreholes once a day.
Finally, the message we heard from communities that have access to the boreholes is that they are safer, healthier and happier.
Social impact projects such as this often would not exist without access to carbon finance. Thanks to the support of our clients and the incredible work on the ground in Ethiopia, access to clean water is saving lives, reducing carbon emissions and ultimately leading to a better quality of life for those living in rural communities.