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Time is precious

22 March 2017

Time is precious

A new water pond constructed with the help of Farm Africa in Bale, Ethiopia has started to change lives.

Mother-of-eight Jamila lives and farms in the lowlands of Ethiopia’s Bale Eco-region, producing crops and rearing livestock. Water scarcity has been a challenge that has dominated her life. Deforestation in the highlands, population growth and erratic rainfall are all putting pressure on the area’s water resources.

Jamila describes her gruelling daily routine before the new water pond was built:

“I would get water from the Welmel River, it’s a five-hour round trip walk from here. If I departed from here at 8am I came back around 1pm. It’s 9km from here. During the dry season I went there every day.”

Jamila worried about how her long absences each day were affecting her family.

“My children were really suffering because I had to spend so much time collecting water. When they got back from school I was not there to cook. Sometimes we asked them to miss school to take the animals to the Welmel River to find water.”

Despite all her efforts Jamila struggled to bring enough water to her home for all the family’s needs.

“We used donkeys for transportation purposes and I got two jerry cans of water there, 10 litres each. I washed my clothes at the river. The water I brought back was just used for drinking and cooking purposes. Most of the time, this was not enough water for us.”

But things are looking up for Jamila and her family. 

As part of Farm Africa's project  preserving ecosystems in Bale (funded by the European Union and the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission), Farm Africa has helped the community construct a new concrete water pond, with a tapstand for humans and a separate cattle trough. A huge pond has been dug, which filled up with water during the recent rainy season. Furthermore, forty hectares of land around the pond have been protected to create the catchment area for rain filling the pond. This helps prevent contamination of the water and allows vegetation to grow that also helps to filter the water. Two silt traps, sand filters for the tapstand and the addition of disinfectant further purify the water.

This water point serves 150 families like Jamila’s who have all helped to clear and prepare the site.

Jamila tells us what the new pond means to her:

“We are very excited for this pond. Now I will be able to get water within 10 minutes’ walking distance from my home. Now the pond is completed if I depart from my home at 8am I am back at 8.20 or 8.30.”

She is already planning how to use her time more productively.

“I will have time for other activities, including helping to manage this pond, like fencing it to keep the animals from entering the pond. I will have more time to support my husband in crop production, and our cattle will be able to graze more.”

The new pond means that Jamila is facing the future with hope and anticipation.

“Our main problem is lack of water: for our family, for the household and for the livestock. But with the new pond, life will be so much better. I can’t read or write. I have an interest to do adult education, but how could I do it when I spent so much time collecting water? Now the pond is here, I hope I can start.”