Clean Water & Environment


Clean Water

In Ethiopia, around 38% of the rural population has no access to a clean water source. In our area, where unprotected springs are used widely by local people and animals, it is nearer 60%.

Mother, infant, and child mortality in Ethiopia is among the highest in the world. A common cause is waterborne diseases; clean water projects are therefore a major part of our work.  Also, in Ethiopia, where cattle, sheep and goats are an important source of income, clean water is vital for their health.

How we work

In our mountainous rural area, clean water can be provided by (i) Spring Development Projects or (ii) Hand-Dug Wells. In some communities, there is no water supply which is capable of being protected by either of these methods, but in thousands of locations they still are possible.

We work with the local community who can identify, and report to their woreda (local government), which springs they believe are practical for development. We then talk with community leaders and we will only proceed if they agree. Some communities are fearful of such a development; some regard the water from a particular spring as holy; in one case it was simply that “women are afraid to go to that place”.

When all these issues have been resolved, a local contractor is appointed through a tendering process. The construction is overseen by the Woreda hydrologist and our Project Manager. Our contribution is a fixed sum of 80% of the cost of the materials plus the professional labour, the current average is £2,200. The local woreda must provide the remaining 20%.

Spring Development Projects

In a Spring Development Project, the existing spring is opened out to maximise its water-bearing capacity. A concrete ‘box’ structure is built around it to collect and seal all the water and pipe it to a sealed stone and concrete reservoir, built in an accessible and acceptable site for local people.   Taps on the reservoir provide clean spring water for drinking.

One pipe from the reservoir fills an animal drinking trough and concrete trays for washing. The pure spring drinking water is thus supplied directly from the spring, mainly for humans but also for livestock.   Farm animals quickly detect “sweet” water and the incidence of debilitation and death, mainly from water-borne ruminant parasites, is greatly reduced when they have clean water to drink.



Cattle, ladies and children together collect impure water from untreated springs


Click images below  to enlarge

Hand Dug Wells

Hand-dug wells are constructed in locations where there is reliable underground water and the geology is suitable. These are hand dug to a depth ranging from 2-6 metres, in our area. The hole is then lined with concrete rings and a platform laid on top. A hand pump is mounted on this platform. The uncontaminated underground water is thus pumped directly to the beneficiaries.


This spring is below ground level. Inevitably it becomes contaminated and heavy cans must be handed up to the beneficiaries at the top.


Click images below to enlarge



6 failed but 2 have been rebuilt, up to 2020.Most are still functional but a full

assessment of some damaged by Tigray People’s Liberation Front in remote areas has 

not yet been made.


Of our total water projects, 122 are Spring Development ; 13 are Hand-Dug Wells

Total beneficiaries 53,000 (including one regular hyena in one location!).


Green Environment




The Ethiopian government had a major tree-planting programme to achieve 5bn plantings by the end of 2020. This has been slightly interrupted  by Covid-19 but more so by security problems. With the agreement of our major donor, some of the funds for this project were diverted for Emergency food and medical supplies after the 2021 TPLF invasion.  We hope to continue the programme in late 2022.



Tree seedlings growing at our tree supplier

All the schools and Health Posts we have been involved with have guards, and all have land in their fenced boundary where we are encouraged to plant trees.  We pay an addition to the guards’ salary to water the trees and report any problems to the Agriculture Department. In school term-time, the children help out.

We have planted 3300 small trees. This programme is a minute contribution to the need, but it also helps awareness in the children.   There is scope for 1000 more on “our” project land.


Health Posts need energy for refrigerators and lighting. In the past, the refrigerators have been fuelled by kerosene but now half of our Health Posts have solar panels which, with batteries, are a more reliable fuel source; less expensive, and of course environmentally desirable. All Health Extension Workers now have mobile phones and  small solar panels, less than A4 size, to charge them.



The guard at Dorolaba Health Post. Tiny solar panels for the Health Extension Workers’ phones (bottom left)



Human Power and Gravity

All our Hand Dug Wells are pumped by excellent handpumps from an Indian supplier and all Spring Improvement Projects depend solely on gravity. There are occasional requests to mechanise, but reliability and servicing would be extremely difficult in our areas and of course have a negative environmental impact.