Doctors Amref Flying and Water for Life: A joint school project in Ethiopia

In a joint project, doctors for Amref Flying and the Water for Life Foundation are cognizant of the delivery of drinking water and latrines in public schools in Ethiopia. Together they set up campaigns in the Netherlands to raise funds for this programme. The goal is to provide approximately 20,000 people in the five selected schools with clean drinking water and good hygiene, including facilities for girls during menstruation.

This is produced by Amref Flying Physicians and Water for Life

Going to school is not a given for many children around the world, including in Ethiopia. The kids here are often responsible for fetching the water, miles from home. This takes a lot of time. The time when they cannot go to school. The lack of clean drinking water and basic sanitation, such as toilets, is also a major problem in schools.

Lack of clean water and good hygiene affects girls during menstruation. 83.9% of girls in Ethiopia do not have access to a toilet and clean water at school. As a result, they cannot go to school during their menstrual period. In addition, there is a taboo on menstrual periods, which means that girls often do not dare to tell them that their period has reached the disease. Lack of knowledge on this subject causes girls to fall behind in their education. On average, girls in Ethiopia stay at home for two months a year and in the worst cases do not return to school.

joint project
To ensure that the water and sanitation problem in Ethiopia is resolved, so that children can go to school safely and without worries, doctors from Amref Flying and the Water for Life Foundation are collaborating. Both organizations pursue the same goal: water and sanitation for all by 2030. In a joint project, co-financed by Made Blue, Amref Flying and Water for Life physicians realize drinking water and latrine connections in 5 public schools in Ethiopia. Training is also provided and there will be information campaigns on hygiene.

Doctors for Amref Flying and the Water for Life Foundation are organizing joint campaigns in the Netherlands to draw attention to problems in Ethiopia and raise funds for this programme. The goal is to provide approximately 20,000 people in the five selected schools with clean drinking water and good hygiene, including facilities for girls during menstruation.

Patricia VermeulenWater for Life and Amref Flying Doctors are both represented in Ethiopia, promoting collaboration locally. “Amref has various programs in Ethiopia to address water problems,” says Patricia Vermeulen, CEO of Amref Flying Doctors. This includes the ‘Clean Water and Good Hygiene in and Around School’ programme.

In this programme, we focus on 5 issues: 1) building water supply in slums, 2) achieving clean water and sanitation in schools, 3) providing information, 4) breaking taboos about menstrual hygiene and 5) creating jobs. Since 2017, our WASH interventions have cumulatively provided more than half a million people with sustainable access to clean drinking water, improved sanitation for nearly 700,000 people and improved hygiene for nearly 800,000 people in Ethiopia.”

Twin RamakerToine Ramaker, Director of the Water for Life Foundation explains: “Water for Life has been actively working for years with several local water companies in Addis Ababa and three small towns in the Oromia region. Here we recognize drinking water facilities and provide training in hygiene. In recent years, more than 200,000 people have had access to safe and affordable water. We are also active in the North Addis Ababa project, where we are working to protect drinking water sources by taking measures with local communities against erosion, soil depletion and deforestation.”

Toine and Patricia are proud of the collaboration between the two organizations. Toine: “I am very proud of the fact that together we put the interests of young children first and help them focus better on their educational performance by removing concerns about drinking water and using the toilet.” Patricia adds: “This joint venture has opened up the possibility of expanding our cooperation to other countries. The impact we are making through this is many times greater than this program alone and I am very proud of that.”

Working in Ethiopia also brings with it challenges. Patricia: Ethiopia has been torn apart since the end of 2020 by a violent conflict in the north of the country. The government army is fighting the advancing rebels of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Thousands of people have died and there is talk of millions of refugees. Because of the conflict and the epidemic of corona and locusts and drought there is a famine. The conditions in which we operate are absolutely appalling, but our efforts for clean drinking water and personal hygiene in and around schools continue unabated. The need is unprecedented at the moment.”

It is the intention that the doctors of Amref Flying and Water for Life will start more joint projects in the future. Patricia: “I hope that with our intervention we will be able to provide nearly 20,000 people with clean drinking water and good hygiene in the five selected schools. Of course I hope that our cooperation will continue successfully and extend to other countries. Now that we know each other’s working methods under this programme, It makes it easier to join forces in other countries as well.”

“I hope that the first five schools in Ethiopia will be a harbinger of a longer cooperation in which we can provide many schools with water and sanitation facilities, and in this way we set a standard so that other parties also join this initiative,” Toine adds.

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