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7 January is Christmas Day in Ethiopia’s Amharic calendar. Last year, WaterAid supporters gave the most generous gift to the people of Adi Sibhat – clean, safe water. We’ve gone back to the community to let you know how one year has changed everything for the people there.

In 2013, through our ambitious appeal, The Big Pipe Project, you raised more than £1million to reach 130,000 people across Ethiopia, including the community of Adi Sibhat, with safe water and toilets – and your generosity is continuing to change lives.

Life in the highlands

Over a period of three months, the Big Pipe Project blog brought you photos and videos of our work with one community in Adi Sibhat, a farming village in the highlands of Tigray.

Before this work, their only source of water had been an open, leech-infested spring at the top of steep, dangerous hills. However, with your help, the community and our partners were able to protect the spring and install a gravity flow system.

By December 2013, safe water was being piped to the heart of the community, and composting latrines were keeping people healthy.

Our partners recently returned to Adi Sibhat and spoke to the people there, finding out how safe, clean water had changed their lives.

Since the water arrived

Kasa Kebede

Kassa Kebede is one of the very active members of Adi Sibhat community. Adi Sibhat, Tigray. 02 December 2013.

"Since the arrival of water we have saved a lot of time, as the water is in the middle of the village. It also means we have saved our energy and diverted it to more productive activities. I can name five or six individuals who have used overflow water from the reservoir to irrigate their lands and grow maize, potatoes and onion. Some got as much as 2,000 birr (around £65) from their produce already. It’s helping us in many ways.

"The water flows regularly and there has never been discontinuation. The cattle trough’s faucet needed a gate valve change recently, but since we received training on how to fix such problems, and tools to help us deal with such incidents, we easily managed it. Apart from that, we have never needed to delve into our savings at the microfinance bank where we have 500 birr for emergencies.”

Mana Miteka

Manna Miteka, 31, was very happy on the day of the opening of the Big Pipe Project, Adi Sibhat, Tigray, Ethiopia, December 28, 2013.

“We can fetch water while our injera [a thin flatbread used as a staple food] is cooking in the stove. That is how quick it takes to get water now. It means we can use the time to take better care of our children and handle more household chores.

“We wash our clothes more regularly. We wash our children more frequently than ever, so they are very clean and healthy. None of my children have been sick since the clean water arrived.”

Getachew Hailu

Getachew Hailu

“We no longer have any fear drinking the water. We are sure the water does not have harmful things such as leeches, so we drink without fear.

“We don’t hear any of our livestock groaning or coughing with pain. Our children are healthy, none of them have complained about diarrhoea. We are very happy people.”

Birhane Araya

Birhane Araya, Adi Sibhat, Ethiopia, December 2013.

“We live a very comfortable life. I am pleased I lived to see this. I could never have imagined it. It’s as if I am born again.”

Read more stories of lives transformed >