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A village reborn
17 November 2016

It’s hard to understand just how valuable cattle are to the tiny, mountain-top community of Shimela in Ethiopia.

They rely on farming for food and to earn a living. And without a source of safe, clean water, they were struggling to keep themselves and their livestock healthy.

Now, thanks to your amazing support, these farmers and their families are overjoyed to have a tap bringing water from their local spring. They also have basins to wash their clothes in and a water trough for their animals.

Watch the community trying out the new facilities:


When a landslide hit Shimela 20 years ago, their local spring became dirty and unsafe. Leeches in the water regularly took the lives of the villagers’ cattle.

"An ox means everything. It's how your livelihood is defined,” explains local farmer Etefa.

"It's how your standard of living is measured. When you lose it, you lose everything.”

Etefa from Shimela, Ethiopia. Etefa, a farmer from Shimela, Ethiopia.

Determined to make a better future for their children

The community campaigned for seven years for access to safe water – and your support played a part in finally making this possible.

“When we heard WaterAid was in the area, our elders asked them to come and see for themselves,” recalls Etefa.

“WaterAid told us they would come back and develop our spring. Everybody thought it was just a promise that would never be fulfilled.”

Etefa explains it wasn’t easy to convince the community to clear bushes so trucks carrying cement and sand could come as close to the water source as possible. But when they saw WaterAid meant business, they all helped out.

And within a month or so, the community had access to clean, safe water.

Connecting such a remote village to the piped network would have been too difficult and costly, so the solution had to be creative. Working with the local government and communities, Shimela’s existing spring was developed to improve the water quality and a sieve was installed to keep out the leeches.

“We feel like our village has been born again. Now our children will go to school clean, and when they come back they will have clean water to drink at home. It’s a brand new life,” says Etefa.

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