Wasserzisterne mit Brunnen in Kudunbur
Axel Fassio/arche noVa

Ethiopia: Water supply for the drought-stricken population

13 periods of drought in the past 18 years - the population of Ethiopia has been suffering from extreme drought almost continuously since the turn of the millennium. While the situation in some parts of the country has eased somewhat in recent months, the situation remains tense in the Somali region of eastern Ethiopia, which has a weak infrastructure. The soils are so dry that they cannot absorb any water. If it does rain, there is a risk of flooding, most recently in the early summer of 2018.
Simple World Map - Author: Al MacDonald Editor: Fritz Lekschas License: CC BY-SA 3.0 ID: ISO 3166-1 or "_[a-zA-Z]" if an ISO code is not available

Southeast Ethiopia hardest hit

Within the emerging Ethiopia, the Somali regional state is one of the least developed. Decades of instability in the region have left it economically, structurally and socially outstripped. The drought has hit people particularly hard.

The area is characterised by pastoral animal husbandry. Farmers move with their herds of cattle on the large, unenclosed pastures. Due to the drought, it has become almost impossible to feed the animals, as the water points have dried up and the meagre vegetation has dried up.

The next drought will come. We are happy,
that the first rain tanks are ready.

Yvonne Stephan - arche noVa

With the livestock the basis of life dies

With the livestock also the food basis and main source of income of the people dies. Many men have migrated to larger cities in search of new sources of income. The situation is particularly difficult for the women who are left behind. Without their own livestock, they have hardly any opportunity to support their families. According to the Ethiopian government, a total of 1.8 million people in the Somali region are dependent on water, sanitation and food aid.

Eroded soils promote flooding

Since spring 2018, the situation has worsened again. On the run from the life-threatening drought, many families have settled along rivers. Although the chance of sufficient water increases there, there is also a risk of flooding. The above-average rainfall in spring could not be absorbed by the completely arid soils. The water ultimately flowed into the riverbeds and caused severe flooding, especially on the lower reaches of the Shabelle River, taking harvests, animals and buildings with it and destroying public infrastructure. The water level rose by almost 4 metres in some cases. The majority of those affected had previously fled here because of the drought. These people have now also lost the little they had left.


Unsafe water with potentially lethal consequences

The Woredas Goglo and Kelafo in which arche noVa is active were classified as particularly critical by the local government. While in Goglo access to the water infrastructure is generally very limited, in Kelafo many water sources have been damaged or contaminated by the floods. The population now drinks untreated water from the nearby Shabelle River. This is an enormous danger, as the health of many people is already under attack due to malnutrition. An additional diarrhoea quickly becomes a matter of life and death.

Water supply - simple but effective

In order to ensure a basic supply, arche noVa, together with its local partner organisation OWDA, will build or repair a total of ten rainwater cisterns in the course of the project. In doing so, we are taking up the traditional construction method of the Birkaz cisterns, but improving them at crucial points: For example, the foundations are being raised to protect against flooding and a sand filter stage is being integrated to improve the quality of the water extracted. An overall more stable construction improves the longevity of the water reservoirs, while a fence protects them from animals.
A water filter system is also being set up for those people who draw their water from the river. With the aid of pumps, the river water is first pumped into a high tank and can then flow from there through the filter system into the extraction tank.


Preventing the spread of diseases through good hygiene

Many people in the project communities operate so-called open defaecation, i.e. they do their business outdoors. Above all, the insufficient number of toilets forces them to do so. arche noVa will therefore repair latrines destroyed by flooding in Kelafo. The aim for the entire project, however, is to improve hygiene conditions through hygiene training and a so-called CLTS campaign. CLTS (Community Led Total Sanitation) is a proven approach to mobilize communities and end open defecation. Ultimately, people should be motivated and guided to build their own latrines and keep them in good shape.

In order to support the particularly affected households run by women, we have also put together a package of measures for women's groups. Among other things, this includes workshops on income-securing measures, small start-up financing for micro-enterprises and the distribution of donkey carts as means of transport. To ensure that the people in the two Woredas are better prepared for extreme weather events in the future, disaster control measures are also being developed with the local authorities.

Donate for this project

are sufficient to equip 5 families with canisters for water transport.
enable the purchase and installation of a faucet where people can fill their drinking water.
for the bricklaying work on a camel drinker, which also contains water during drought.

Project Overview


Improving water supply, sanitation and food security for drought and flood affected communities in Goglo and Kelafo Woredas, Somali region, Ethiopia

Target Group

13,300 people in the communities of Goglo and Kelafo, in particular pastoralists who have lost their livestock as a result of the drought and drought-affected farmers.

  • Construction and rehabilitation of 10 water reservoirs (Birkaz)
  • Installation of water filter systems in 4 villages
  • Repair of latrines damaged by flooding.
  • Improvement of hygiene conditions through distribution of hygiene articles, hygiene training and CLTS (Community Led Total Sanitation) campaigns. This also includes instructions on how to build simple latrines.
  • Training for water committees on water infrastructure maintenance and care
    Construction of emergency toilets in case of new floods / emergency situations.
  • Workshops for women to improve their income situation.
  • Workshops on disaster risk management
Co-operation partners

Organization for Welfare and Development in Action (OWDA)

  • Wilo-Foundation

  • private donors