During 2013, IDRB-Ethiopia operated two medical clinic/nutritional feeding projects in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. The Dire Dawa Health Initiative Project the Dire Dawa Health, Nutrition, and Community Health Education Project were concluded on May 31, 2013. In the fall of 2013, IDRB entered into its third year as a partner with Voice in the Wilderness Development Organization (VWDO) as a funding-partner for the operation of two elementary schools in the Afar Region of Ethiopia. In February 2013 IDRB completed implementation of the Melkadida Refugee Camp Schools Supplies Project.

One of the most critical needs of rural communities in Ethiopia is access to clean drinking water.  Contaminated water is a leading cause of illness and infant mortality.  Some communities lack clean water because they do not have a well to provide it, so they use local surface water sources, most of which have biological contaminates from livestock.  However, IDRB-Ethiopia has observed that many communities have borehole wells with hand pumps that no longer work.  The broken pumps prevent community access to the clean water in the well.

The daily task of water collection falls primarily to women and girls.  For many, this requires a walk of up to three hours to the nearest well where they must wait in line for their turn to fill their yellow jerry cans with water.  Because of the time required to complete this daily task, many girls are unable to attend school.

Since 2015 IDRB-Ethiopia has been working to resolve these water issues.  Ethiopia is blessed with abundant wind and solar resources and IDRB-Ethiopia is replacing hand pumps with wind-powered, gear-driven windmill pumps and solar- powered submersible pumps to provide reliable, long-term solutions to water pumping needs.  The system delivers water to a distribution point that has four water faucets.  This allows four jerry cans to be filled at one time and significantly reduces the time and effort required to collect water.  Another benefit is less wasted water compared to the traditional hand pump since the water stream from the faucet can go directly into the jerry can without unnecessary spillage.  At one former hand pump site a mother stated, “Before the windmill my daughter could not attend school because she didn’t have time to collect water before school started.  Now, because the windmill provides the water so much faster, my daughter has started attending school.”

As IDRB-Ethiopia introduces these new pumping technologies, we are working with the Zone Water Bureaus to train their technicians on the installation and maintenance of the equipment.  The long-term goal is that the local water departments will have trained technicians capable of installing and maintaining the wind and solar pumping equipment on their own.