Community members in southern Ethiopia are preparing to start work on their own sand dam projects in the near future. We spoke with Dobir Garsho, a member of the Bena group, to find out more about the context of their project.

Parts of southern Ethiopia experience great difficulties in accessing safe water and the Bena group, based in Jinja Village, is no exception. Dobir Garsho, a 27-year-old agro-pastoralist from the Bena group, tells us of the issues he, his family, and his community have had in this regard.

"Water shortages, food shortages and animal feed shortages have all been great challenges for us. We have tried to address these challenges by fetching water over long distances" Dobir explains. Fetching water over these long distances can take up to 5 hours for a round trip, with the possibility of encountering dangerous wild animals, such as snakes, posing a constant threat to safety.

Even where water is obtained over these long distances, the water quality can have serious health impacts on those who drink it. Dobir tells us of his experiences with this, explaining "My family and I have been exposed to communicable diseases such as diarrhoea, as well as other water-borne diseases. They can last for 2-3 weeks, but the effect can persist beyond this time to worsen body condition and generally make people more vulnerable."

Dobir also describes how these challenges can worsen at certain times of year, particularly during the period from the beginning of February to the middle of April. "Right now" he tells us, "we are experiencing a shortage of food for both people and for livestock. My family and I have experienced food shortages, which leads to malnutrition and body fatigue as well as being susceptible to diseases. We cope through these difficult times by eating wild plants such as roots or leaves."

Despite these challenges, Dobir remains positive and says he looks forward to working on the sand dam project with Excellent and Action for Development (AFD), our partners in the region. "Excellent and AFD are planning to help us construct a new water solution; a sand dam for our village, to be used by the village population and our livestock" explains Dobir. "Once the project is completed, the problem of water for us and our livestock will be solved. There will be no need to travel long distances to fetch water for ourselves or our livestock; this will reduce the drudgery of this task for the community."

Dobir Garsho - Southern Ethiopia"Having access to safe and adequate amounts of water will improve our lives. The problem of water scarcity will be solved because people and their livestock will be able to get water as much as they need."

Dobir Garsho, member of Bena Group, Southern Ethiopia.

Dobir is currently clearing his land of bushes and weeds for farmland expansion. "I plan to grow sorghum and maize" he says, "I will use these for consumption by me and my family. Any remaining I will use as a cash source to buy more livestock."

The Bena community are already making plans for their project, which Dobir says is raising spirits among the people. He tells us "When I think about how the sand dam and what we will achieve with it, I feel very happy and think that it is a good opportunity for sustaining our livelihoods."

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