A new localised water treatment facility provides safe, reliable drinking water in Ethiopia. Only 42 per cent of Ethiopia’s population has access to safe, clean drinking water – and that number declines even further in rural areas. Many women and children have to walk for over three hours to collect water from drought-reduced shallow ponds, streams and lakes that are often contaminated with human and animal waste, worms or disease. In fact, water-borne illnesses, such as cholera and diarrhea, are the leading cause of death in children under five in Ethiopia.
The town of Serdo in the Afar Region of Ethiopia lies within the Great Rift Valley, which is known for underground water reservoirs that contain dangerously high levels of salinity and fluoride. Non-governmental organizations have funded the drilling of boreholes in the region as a way to access clean water directly underground, but, on average, only one in five produces safe drinking water. Approximately 40 borehole wells throughout Afar itself have been abandoned and sealed after thousands of dollars on drilling has been spent.
USAID approached DuPont Water Solutions to build a demonstration site in Serdo to treat the water from a capped borehole for the local pastoralist community. The idea was simple: create an economical model for uncapping local boreholes by reducing the salinity and fluoride content to safe levels, at which point the clean, potable water could be used.
With funding from USAID and Water Solutions, the regional DuPont team worked with Israel-based Puretec Water Engineering Ltd on the design and installation of a treatment facility. Water Solutions donated 16 Reverse Osmosis (RO) Elements FILMTEC™ BW30-400 and provided technical expertise, while CARE Ethiopia and the regional government facilitated the project’s process and logistics.