The Birka entry in Hodley: the water collecting basin was emptied to the last drop. Photo: humedica
When the water runs out
humedica secures water supply of the Hodley village
Just imagine you are at home and the next place to get water to drink, cook or wash is several kilometres away. No water tap around to fill quickly the empty bottles and most certainly no connection to a pipeline system providing water for a washing machine or a garden hose.
Which may sound strange to us is still arduous daily routine for many people living in the rural areas of Ethiopia. It is not uncommon that the next well or water collecting reservoir is a day´s walk away from home and so each morning mainly women and children set out to fetch the necessary daily ration for their families.
In the Eastern Ethiopian village Hodley, not far away from the Somali border, humedica tried to ameliorate this difficult situation since 2013 by constructing a Birka. The traditional water reservoir could store so much of the valuable good that both the 1.000 inhabitants and their cattle could be supplied with water until the next rainy season. The people no longer needed to walk 15 kilometres by foot to the nearest Birka in the city Jijiga.
But if there is no rain, there is no water. When in the Eastern part of Ethiopia there was no rain for a whole row of seasons and there was no rainfall to be expected in the near future, in the middle of March the Hodley inhabitants had to face once again a problem, they had believed to be solved. Their Birka was emptied to the last drop, their crop and cattle perished and the people once again had to walk for kilometres to fetch water at the next well.
When the 16th of March finally a call for help reached humedica, the employees in the German and Ethiopian offices responded immediately. They organised tank lorries, loaded them with water and set out for Hodley. Within only two days the Birka was filled again and can now provide the 1.000 inhabitants with enough water for their everyday lives.
A recently founded eight person committee of villagers controls the correct use and storage of the water, secures the fair distribution and takes care that neither people nor cattle damage the Birka inadvertently.
Besides the obvious existential effect, the secured water supply also offers another positive side benefit for the inhabitants of Hodley: the children, who no longer have to spend their time fetching water at the far away well for their families, are now again able to attend classes regularly.