Vision of Hope

Muluwork Denekew, 31, with her daughter Yeabsira next to her and her son, Alazar on her back
Image: WaterAid/ Frehiwot Gebrewold

Muluwork Denekew, 31, is a mother of two. She lives in Finote Selam Town with her husband and two children, her daughter Yeabsira 3 and her son Alazar, 11 months. Besides living in poverty, Muluwork and her husband are blind. They don’t even have their own incomes and beg to make a living. They have no one who could support them. Furthermore, taking care of the kids and managing the housework is a women’s responsibility in most places of Ethiopia, Muluwork is also burdened with that.

When I used to bring water from the river, walking there was very challenging for me. I hated to beg people to go with me and or support me because I know everyone is busy with their own things. 

Collecting water was one of the very challenging tasks for Muluwork as their only water source was a river located about 30 minutes’ away from their house. She had to walk by the support of her walking cane or sometimes had to wait for her neighbours to accompany her to the river. When I used to bring water from the river, walking there was very challenging for me. I hated to beg people to go with me and or support me because I know everyone is busy with their own things, Muluwork said.  

It was even challenging to beg the owners to give us water. Since we don’t have money, we didn’t contribute anything. 

After assessing the community's dire need for clean water, the town’s utility installed one tap for Muluwork's neighbourhood and around 7 households benefited from that single tap. After that when the tap was installed here, it was even challenging to beg the owners to give us water. Since we don’t have money, we didn’t contribute anything. It was very much challenging to sometimes see their faces. Besides, whenever they were not around, I used to go to other places, and it was not easy, she added.

You live without food for two or three days. But you can’t stay for a single day without water. Having this tap installed in my house made me very happy. 

Muluwork is on short of words to express the impact this project has on her and family's lives. She said," My children now can wash whenever they want, and they will grow up being healthy and clean." She went on adding, "By the way, water is the source of life, every other thing is secondary. You can’t cook without water even if you have other food items. You live without food for two or three days. But you can’t stay for a single day without water. Having this tap installed in my house made me very happy. I even called my father and told him how excited I am that tap water is installed for me. He congratulated me and told me to drink plenty of water. I told him that I can use the water as much as I want as it belongs to me." Knowing that her children won’t suffer anymore due lack of clean water,  Muluwork is filled with hope that she is even planning to continue her education in the coming year.

The 20 towns’ capacity development project mainly focuses on technical support to local utilities on areas of their work ranging from asset management, leakage detection and reduction, customer engagement, to using different technology to ensure better service provision. One of the creative projects the 20 Towns’ utilities embarked on was installing water meters to poor communities that could not otherwise have afforded the installation fees. The project had a 5-year duration and funded by Yorkshire Water.

Capacity strengthening initiatives are often restricted to one-off trainings for individual staff members. However, WaterAid’s Twenty Town project takes a holistic, sustained, systems building approach to capacity development. Trainings are accompanied with the provision of manuals and where necessary equipment. Trainees were required to develop post-training action plans, the implementation of which are reviewed during bi-annual monitoring and mentoring visits to each town.