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Hope in hard places: Ethiopia

By Aklilu Kassaye and Kristy J. O’Hara
Feb 27, 2015
©2014 Kebede Gizachew/World Vision
Mihret, 10, once got diarrhea from drinking contaminated water in her village, but now that World Vision has brought clean water, she no longer gets sick.

Ten-year-old Mihret used to travel to Ethiopia’s Yekashe River twice a day to get water for her family. The Yekashe and the Begez rivers have long provided water to the village of Chezha, where Mihret lives.

For years, the water she carried home was contaminated. Mihret still remembers going to the hospital when she got diarrhea, which accounts for 20 percent of deaths among Ethiopian children younger than 5, and as high as 30 percent in rural areas.

“Now, when I see sick people, it reminds me of the pain I had,” she says of her isolated village, 124 miles southwest of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.

In 2011, World Vision began working in her community and has since constructed 16 new water sources and renovated 22 others, bringing clean water to 28,000 people. Now Mihret has safe water to drink and more time to study and play.

“I used to travel two hours to get 10 liters (2.6 gallons) of water, and [it] was not enough to do what we want with it,” Mihret says. “Now look — we have adequate water just at our house. Since this water point went operational, I have never been sick of any waterborne disease.”

Lack of clean water causes many problems across Ethiopia that affect food supply, livelihoods, health, education, and family life. While much progress has been made in this eastern African country, the need for clean water sources remains critical. Please pray with us this month for World Vision’s vital water work in Ethiopia.

Suggested prayer points

Pray for improved health, sanitation, and hygiene. 

As part of its clean water program, World Vision also teaches families how to practice good personal hygiene by washing their hands before and after meals, before preparing food, and after using the restroom. Last year in Ethiopia, more than 168,000 community members received training in personal hygiene, environmental sanitation, and water supply usage, which benefitted more than 428,000 people. In addition, 734 villages earned open-defecation-free status, which benefits more than 212,000 people by keeping water sources clean and children healthy.

Lord, thank You for providing clean water to so many people and for equipping World Vision staff members to teach others how to care for their bodies and communities. Continue to provide clean water sources and help people embrace sanitation training so they won’t get sick. For those afflicted by waterborne disease, please bring comfort and healing to their bodies.

Pray for increased agriculture opportunities.     

The once-desolate Antsokia Valley of the mid-1980s is now a thriving, green valley thanks in part to World Vision’s water work, which began as a response to that decade’s famine and continues today. Water collection, transportation, and irrigation systems give farmers the ability to grow flourishing fields of crops to sell at market and feed their families. In 2014, World Vision provided agriculture and business development training to 419,000 farmers across the country. Improved water access also affects farmers’ animals. “During dry season, many cattle die, infected of leech bite,” says Talu Atrifo, a 30-year-old man from Chezha. “But now our animals drink from a [separate] canal at the water point.” With healthy livestock, farmers can breed their animals and sell them for income.

Almighty God, we praise You for the transforming work You have done in Ethiopia’s farms. We ask that You continue to connect farmers with clean water systems and training resources to make their harvests larger and animals healthier.

Pray for stronger families.    

World Vision drilled, capped, and constructed 393 water facilities that benefited 1.25 million people in Ethiopia last year. When Chezha village received access to water, 60-year-old Birknesh saw an improvement not just in people’s physical health, but also in her family’s emotional health. “As a housewife and mother, I had to travel to Begez River every morning for at least two hours to have water for the whole day’s activity,” she says. “Thus, in most instances, I fail to provide breakfast to my husband, making him go to farm work without food, [and ending] up in quarrel. … Thanks to World Vision, these have gone.”

Great Healer, we thank You for providing not just the physical healing of so many but also the binding of emotional wounds. Please bring families closer to each other and to You with the extra time and reduced stress levels they have from getting clean water sources close to home.

Pray for children’s educational opportunities.    

Biruk Berhanu, 10, also lives in Chezha. Biruk became sick with typhoid after drinking contaminated water, suffering from severe fever. Today he is healthy, working hard in grade 3, and has big dreams for the future. “I want to be an engineer to construct many potable water facilities [for] the community,” he says. “Now that the water facility is near my house, I have plenty of time to study and play football.” Children now spend more time in school instead of transporting water. They also have more free time to play, study, and dream. Unlike Biruk, many Ethiopian children don’t even think about college because only 15 percent attend high school. But as water becomes available, more kids can go to school.

Father God, thank You for allowing kids like Biruk a chance to dream. Please continue to provide the resources for even more children to learn, grow, and pursue careers that can help them further transform their communities in the future.


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The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain … .
Psalm 65:9