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U.S. Ambassador Michael Raynor and Afar Regional State President Awol Arba Jointly Inaugurated the New Water System, Which will Provide the First-Ever Sustainable Source of Safe Drinking Water for More Than 2,000 People in the Area

Ethiopia: Turning a disappointment into a blessing as the seal comes off a capped water borehole in Ethiopia.

The community in drought-stricken Serdo was devastated to learn the water from their newly bored well was so heavily contaminated with fluoride and salt that it had to be sealed. All hope of the end of a persistent struggle to find safe water was gone.

Until that is, USAID, CARE Ethiopia, Puretec Israel, and DuPont Water Solutions joined forces to build a solution that would sustain the community for decades. Sixteen Reverse Osmosis (RO) elements were donated by DuPont to provide clean, cool water to some 2,000 citizens.

USAID’s Lowland Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Activity, in collaboration with DuPont Water Solutions and the Afar Water and Irrigation Resource Development Bureau, installed a reverse osmosis water system featuring a standalone cooling tower – the first of its kind in Afar. The facility is designed to safely treat salinity, filter out impurities and harmful bacteria, and reduce the high temperature of the local groundwater making it safe to drink.

Commissioned in October 2019, the Serdo water scheme is now providing 5,000 liters per hour of safe water, stopping the need for long walks to fetch it or truck delivery into the town. The solution is being kept sustainable through technical training of regional water managers and community-based operators and technicians.

President of the Afar regional state, His Excellency Awol Arba stated, “This project will enable the community to focus on other aspects of life,” in the inauguration in October 2019, in which he and U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor, turned on the tap.

“These efforts are just one part of the United States’ much larger investment in providing Ethiopians throughout their country with greater opportunities to prosper in life, including our major programs to support health, education, and livelihoods”, said U.S. Ambassador Michael Raynor. The Ambassador underlined the importance of the project to “…alleviate a serious situation where this community simply did not have access to reliable and safe drinking water.”

Serdo again has hope, with water shortages no longer distracting from other aspects of life. With hope comes opportunity and prosperity. The project serves as a role model for reviving hope across the state of Arfa which has approximately 40 other capped boreholes that were drilled only to be found similarly unfit for direct use.

Over the past several years, the USAID Lowland WASH Activity has built 25 community water supply systems and rehabilitated an additional 91 water systems, providing access to safe drinking water for more than 200,000 Ethiopians in areas of the country where water is scarce. Under a unique partnership, DuPont provided funding for supplies and installation of reverse osmosis and water-cooling equipment for the Serdo facility and will promote the use of similar innovations in other parts of Ethiopia.

The USA is the largest bilateral donor in Ethiopia. U.S. development programs like the USAID Lowland WASH Activity invest in strengthening the capacity of local government and the Ethiopian people to address their own needs by helping communities better manage and use water resources.

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