Ron Adkins of the Rotary Club of Lakewood has been appointed to the Task Force for the third Ethiopian Water Project. The goal of the Task Force is to raise at least $1,000,000 to improve the lives of at least 350,000 people in small villages and rural areas of Ethiopia.
At first blush, this may seem like a huge undertaking, but, thanks to strong support from other agencies, Adkins feels it can and will be achieved. The base of this funding has Rotary Clubs, individual Rotarians and generous citizens, largely from the Tacoma and Seattle area, pooling contributions. World Vision has agreed to match these donations dollar for dollar, and then The Hilton Foundation will match that total.
What will the money go for? The primary focus is the development of wells and water projects that can be sustained by the local residents. According to official statistics, about 74% of all Ethiopians lack access to clean water. One result is that, according to the US Embassy, about 500,000 Ethiopian children die each year, largely due to water-borne illnesses. The secondary focus of the endeavor is the construction of basic sanitation systems.
At this time, the task of fetching water falls primarily on women and children, especially young girls. Twice a day these water bearers trek, on average, about two miles one way to fill heavy earthenware containers with two to five gallons of water. These containers are strapped on their backs or balanced on their heads for the return trips. Each container usually weighs between 20 and 60 pounds. Sadly, the water so laboriously obtained is often polluted.
Adkins and his wife, Jeanette, saw this firsthand when they were in Ethiopia in 2005. They visited a well project in a village near the town of Nazareth and saw the ugly, brown water being used for everything: drinking, cooking, irrigation, animals, and washing clothes. The well is now complete, and over 2,500 Ethiopians have clean water for the first time.
Clean water is simply the first step. It is too early to demonstrate how much the death rate has declined for very young children, but that should be evident soon. Just as important, children, especially young girls, may now go to primary school instead of spending much of their day toting heavy containers of water.
The first Ethiopian Water Project is now complete. The second project, valued at about $350,000, is fully funded and is making good progress. In view of this success, World Vision and The Hilton Foundation have joined in the funding of the current project.
The Ethiopian Water Project III doesn’t end with wells and improved sanitation. It will involve developing micro-finance opportunities for women, HIV and AIDS awareness training, and malaria prevention training, none of which would have much prospect for success without fresh, clean water in the villages.
Anyone can help. A project commitment form is attached, and any person, organization, school or church is encouraged to contribute. Remember, every dollar donated becomes four dollars.
For further information, you may contact Ron Adkins at firstname.lastname@example.org or download the Water Project brochure.