Charity initiative Project Waterfall tells Global Coffee Report about its latest endeavour to provide sustainable clean water to Jabi Tehnan, Ethiopia.
Independently registered charity Project Waterfall is working to end the water crisis in isolated, rural, coffee growing areas.
Its mission, is to unite the coffee industry to give back to coffee growing communities by investing in sustainable clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects.
Project Waterfall Director Rebecca Hodgson says its recently completed project in the Jabi Tehnan Woreda region of Ethiopia has successfully increased the regions water quality.
“Our project in Jabi Tehnan in three Kebeles villages began in the summer of 2018, and was completed in June 2022, so it’s taken just under four years to complete,” says Hodgson.
“Ethiopia is considered the biological and cultural home of coffee, with coffee farming alone providing an income for over 15 million people across the country. However, Ethiopia is one of the countries that struggles that most with the water crisis.
“The Jabi Tehnan Woreda region has some of the worst coverage of clean water and sanitation in the country, partly due to it being an extremely rural area. Disconnected areas like this often struggle to receive help with building and maintaining a resilient water supply system, which is why we prioritised this project.”
In collaboration with international not-for-profit WaterAid, Project Waterfall utilised its in-depth knowledge of how to plan and deliver resilient water supply systems.
“When completing these projects, it’s so important to do so in collaboration with the local community and government. Working in partnership with WaterAid means we can make the most of established relationships, so that we know these projects are creating a long-lasting positive impact,” Hodgson says.
“While WaterAid use their expertise to make changes on the ground, we used our connections within the coffee industry globally to raise as much money as possible to transform the lives of the hardworking people who grow our coffee. Our teamwork means that the community in Jabi Tehnan now have access to clean water as well as public shower and toilet blocks.”
Thanks to a community of supporters, Project Waterfall has been able to provide improved access to safe water supply for 10,571 people, and increased access to improved and basic sanitation for 10,416 people. The initiative has also increased knowledge, skills, and awareness on hygiene for 10,571 people.
Before this project, access to clean drinking water was a daily struggle for the community, with women and children having to walk long distances and wait in line to collect water that wasn’t clean. Now, students and staff at the local high school and primary school have access to proper toilets, a shower and handwashing facilities.
Bizuayehu Anteneh, a 45-year-old mother of five, lives in the Addis Alem village in the Mankussa Abdogoma Kebele in Jabi Tehnan. She says having accessible clean water has had an amazing impact on her and her family.
“With the water that is installed near our house, I can now use my time effectively, look after my family’s hygiene and be energetic. This is what I was looking for and I am now living a happy life,” says Anteneh.
Alongside the countless mothers living in this rural area, Anteneh used to walk for 20 minutes every day to collect unclean water from a nearby spring. Her family need eight jerry cans of water daily to stay hydrated, complete chores and keep themselves clean, and Bizuayehu was only able to collect and carry three. Now, Bizuayehu and her family can easily collect and use the eight jerry cans they need daily.
“I am a member of the women’s development association. We make sure the water taps are working properly and are safely managed. We teach our children to stay away from the taps and keep the cattle away as the same time. We are very lucky to have this facility in our village and we will keep it safe as much as we can,” Anteneh says.
With WASH training provided to health extension workers and local government officials, and water supply committees established, Hodgson says the newly built facilities will remain climate resistant and be properly maintained.
“Ensuring that our projects have a long-lasting impact is very important to us. As a result, education always plays a huge part in the successful completion of projects, including this one in Jabi Tehnan. The community were involved at all stages, whether it be during initial planning or during physical construction,” she says.
Hodgson adds that Project Waterfall is committed to supporting those who make daily coffee possible and ensuring a permanent supply of clean water, as access to WASH facilities is something that many take for granted.
“When you bring clean drinking water into a community, it changes everything. By working together, we can make a real and lasting impact on the communities that are so essential to our supply chain,” Hodgson says.
This article was first published in the July/August 2022 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.