In uncertain times, clean water is more important than ever.

People in Ethiopia and around the world need clean water to stay safe and healthy, protect their livelihoods, and build a better future for themselves, whatever our changing climate brings.

The people of Frat, in northwest Ethiopia, have a special word for the spirit of collaboration. It’s called ‘Wenfell’, meaning that a problem for one is a problem for all. Isn’t that a beautiful sentiment?

Frat is a hilltop community, 380km from Addis Ababa. It’s a hot, remote place with few trees for shade. And right now, the future prosperity of this community is buried beneath tons of rock and sand. In the community of Frat, we met a 12-year-old boy called Yenus, a charming, bright-eyed boy who loves poetry, music and science, and who has big dreams of becoming a policeman one day. But instead of learning about the world, he spends hours every day riding his donkey to the river to fetch water.  

It’s hot and the journey is tough. But Yenus is proud to do it, because he knows his family are relying on him. Yenus doesn’t like the water. He knows it’s not clean and makes people sick. But his mother says it’s all they’ve got for washing, cooking and drinking.

Help bring clean water to Frat

The day we met Yenus, he was fetching water from the River Lah. Crouching awkwardly, he was filling a huge jerrycan with brown, filthy liquid. Water that was polluted with excrement  together with waste from the nearby hospital. Like many of his friends, Yenus spends hours every day fetching dirty water when he could be studying, playing and fulfilling his potential. There’s no other option. Even though each sip could lead to serious illness, it’s all his family has to drink, cook and wash with. Yenus is one of 785 million people worldwide without clean water. The water makes them sick and holds them back in life. In the rainy season, the river overflows and becomes dangerous to reach because of mud.

ET38_241_WaterAid_ Joey Lawrence
Image: WaterAid/ Joey Lawrence

But the risk to Yenus’ future doesn’t stop there. Without a reliable source of water, his whole family is at the mercy of the changing climate.  As local farmer Aliy Abebe says:

“Long ago, we used to get rain at the right time. But the climate is changing so much that we are afraid a drought could come, or that excessive rains will destroy our crops.”

We can help the people of Frat unearth a brighter, more secure future and empower the local community to dig deep and unearth a climate resilient water supply that will transform lives. Working in close partnership with the community, we will excavate a borehole that taps into a well of spring water deep underground. Solar power will then be used to pump the water up to a new 75,000-liter reservoir that local people will help to build. 

From there, gravity flow will pipe clean, constant water to seven public water points across the community, including one in Yenus’ school. An incredible 6,000 people will have direct access to a climate-resilient water supply for the first time in their lives.

For people like Hawa Yimam-Mohamad, change can’t come quickly  enough. A smallholder farmer and local women’s group leader, the struggle for water has dominated her life. 

“Three years ago there was a drought, so the crops didn’t grow,” Hawa says. “This year, too much rain destroyed the harvest. With clean water we could plant vegetables in our gardens, so we would have food even if our crops failed.” 

ET38_121_WaterAid_ Joey Lawrence
Image: WaterAid/ Joey Lawrence

Local café owner, Aynwaga Gebeheyu, is also excited to see clean water flowing in Frat. Her business can’t prosper because customers don’t trust the local water. Worse still, her son is two years old and regularly falls sick because the water is polluted.  

”I wish my son to be healthy,” Aynwaga told us, cradling her son. “To grow up without any problems and be a professional one day. If we had clean water here, it would make a big difference. We’d get healthy and be productive.” 

Aynwaga, 24, with her two year old son, who is often sick from drinking water from the River Lah. Frat, Ethiopia.
Aynwaga, 24, with her two year old son, who is often sick from drinking water from the River Lah. Frat, Ethiopia.
Image: WaterAid/ Joey Lawrence

The difference clean water will make

With clean water, people will be healthier and able to grow fruit and vegetables in kitchen gardens so they can have nutritious food whatever the weather. Children will have more time to go to school, to have fun and to pursue their dreams, free from the burden of collecting dirty water every day.

The day clean water arrives will mark the beginning of their brightest chapter, giving everyone the chance to thrive and rewrite the rest of their story.

Together, we will bring clean water, toilets and hygiene facilities to 50,000 people in Ethiopia and thousands more around the world, helping them change their own lives, forever.

You can make sure as our climate changes the people of Ethiopia can rely on clean water, today and every day. You can contribute to a Future On Tap.

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Future on Tap contributes to reaching Sustainable Development Goals 6 and 13 by providing climate-resilient water and sanitation to communities across Ethiopia.