Lemn Sissay’s powerful poem articulates the impact of our changing climate in Ethiopia

13 November 2020
Poet, playwright and broadcaster Lemn Sissay, who has produced inspiring new poem for WaterAid’s Future on Tap appeal. 2020
Slater King

We had the pleasure of working with world renowned author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay MBE, who has written poetry for the London 2012 Olympics and the FA Cup, to create a new thought-provoking poem. Hope Spring Eternal tells the story of communities in Ethiopia whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by climate change and brings to life our Future on Tap appeal.

Find out what inspired Lemn, whose parents are from Ethiopia, to write the poem, and hear his words in action in our short film which is part of Future on Tap.

I’m proud to be working with WaterAid and using my poetry to represent some inspiring stories from Ethiopia and bring to life the issue of water and climate change.

When reading accounts from families in Frat in Ethiopia I have been struck by their strength and solidarity, which has helped them overcome immense challenges. Their lives and livelihoods are now threatened by the changing climate, a global crisis impacting poorest countries the most, despite them doing the least to cause it.

Hope Spring Eternal

In the past when the rains stopped
The world put its hand to its mouth in shock 

Young and old sought new homes 
(new pastures told of new seeds sown) 

And built upon and tilled the land 
And willed life from skilled hands 
(roots search deep, crops grow high) 
Shoots dare greet the bittersweet sky 

The changing climate pressures earth 
With scant regard for human worth 
Once more the long walk and bodies immerse 
In unclean water unfit for thirst 

Let us rise to the challenge let us stand tall 
If a future is for one it must be for all 
Let the aged flourish and water nourish birth 
And hope spring eternal and sing from the earth

What you can do to help

We can all help tackle this injustice by helping get people clean water. Water is life; it enables people to not only survive, but thrive, and it builds resilience to the changing climate, whatever the future holds.

This winter, help bring clean water to Frat and even more climate vulnerable communities throughout Ethiopia. With funding from the UK government, WaterAid will work with local partners in the Berbere region to install a new solar pumping system, and build accessible toilets and water points in three health centres and five schools.

Until 4 February 2021, the UK government will match your donations to the Future on Tap appeal, up to £2 million, making double the impact.