Mar 2019

World Water Day 2019

Posted by Ethiopiaid on Tuesday 5th March 2019

What is World Water Day & why is it important?

Access to safe, clean water is a human right. But today, billions of people are still living without safe water.

In Ethiopia, one of the biggest factors behind the water crisis is repeated drought, particularly in the arid, seasonal region of Afar.

The theme for this World Water Day is ‘Leaving no person behind.’ It highlights the need to tackle this water crisis by addressing the reasons why so many people are being left behind.

Mother with her children in Afar traditional house

Women, children, the elderly and sick are often more vulnerable groups


Why are people being left behind?

The people of Afar are pastoralist, nomadic people whose livelihood is their livestock, and it is these people who are left behind in the race to access safe, clean water when drought strikes.

For the people of Afar, there are underlying issues in their homeland which both accelerate the effects of drought and leave them with little buffer to prepare for the dry seasons in advance:

  • No community-based economy and extremely poor access to the few markets that exist in the region | This makes it difficult for people to purchase emergency supplies of grain, medication or fodder, and even when this is available, produce is often hugely marked up in price.

  • No available feed or medication for livestock | This means drought and outbreak of disease can quickly decimate whole herds.

  • Too few water sources | This means existing sources of water like dams or cisterns get used up far too quickly if the rains don’t come, or else are vulnerable to contamination

On top of this, groups who are already marginalised or more vulnerable become even more so once crisis hits. Children, women, the elderly and sick are unable to travel the long and grueling distances to access water or food supplies during times of crisis. Many are left to beg for water by the road.

Livestock grazing on grassland in Afar

In Afar, livestock are the main livelihood


How can we stop people being left behind?

Our field partners in Afar, APDA, are working tirelessly to provide relief for the current drought, and build capacity to withstand future and repeated drought.

Along with emergency water trucking to provide immediate access to water in isolated areas, APDA are:

  • Supplying basic food rations including grain and oil to the most vulnerable households (destitute households, pregnant and breast-feeding mothers and children under 5 years)

  • Providing animal fodder for livestock in households facing absolute destitution if their last remaining goats die

  • Handing out animal treatment to immediately stamp out disease outbreaks

  • Providing house-to-house vaccinations against measles and whooping cough which further weaken communities, plus water purification tablets to prevent outbreaks of acute watery diarrhea

All of this is acting to alleviate the current water crisis for the people of Afar.

The dream for the future, however, is for an Afar where the people have buffers in place against the crisis and where no person is left behind.


…where women can run local household-based shops selling domestically needed commodities at reasonable prices, including animal feed and fodder


…where animal feed and fodder are readily available in these local shops year-round; both for times of emergency and also for breeding animals so that households have access to fresh and nutritious milk


…where animals are treated and vaccinated by local veterinary cooperatives, so that herds are less susceptible to disease and so fattened animals can be sold at market for a good price


…where smart water sources support small-scale crop production to provide diversity in diet and income from commerce, while also being able to withstand drought.

Trucking in water & supplies to areas hit hardest by Afar drought

Trucking in emergency supplies to families who are most vulnerable


How can you join World Water Day 2019?

This World Water Day, chip in for emergency and long term drought relief to help make sure every person across Afar has access to safe, clean water.

Go to our ‘DONATE’ page and help provide water for all – during drought and always.


Camel used for transport in Afar

Camels are often used to transport produce across the arid landscape


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