For many people in southern Ethiopia, water and food scarcity are regular struggles. The prospect of a sand dam project can make all the difference to people's outlooks, as Sabi Kotsa, member of Bena Group (who recently completed their first sand dam) explains to us.

Can you tell us about yourself, your family, and your community?

Sabi: My name is Sabi Kotsa, I am 25 years old and I have two children. I am part of the Bena group and I was born in Jinja village, which is why I joined the group. I am an Agro-pastoralist, so I mainly keep livestock and farm agricultural land.

How are Sand Dams Worldwide and our partner in Ethiopia, Action for Development (AFD) supporting you?

Sabi Kotsa - Southern Ethiopia"My expectation is that the sand dam project will help to solve our problem of water scarcity. The water project will change my life through improving access to drinkable water and decreasing the work load that is currently imposed by having to travel long distances to fetch water."

Sabi Kotsa, member of Bena Group, Ethiopia.

Can you describe a typical day (before the sand dam project)?

Sabi: I have faced many problems, like shortages of food and drinking water for both human and animal consumption. The month of February is the critical time where these problems happen the most. Communities are exposed to very high temperatures that can cause major harm, and at times people go very hungry. Animals’ physical condition deteriorates and they become underweight. For example, cows do not give enough milk. Our coping mechanisms include searching for and eating wild plants, or travelling to other areas in search of pasture and water.

How long does it usually take you to collect water and what is the journey like?

Sabi: It takes around 5-6 hours for a round trip. The road is rocky and stony, with other possible dangers including wild animal encounters, rape, and abduction during the journey.

Due to lack of clean water, what has been the impact on your health?

Sabi: Due to our exposure to such hardships, we have been affected by diseases and have been sometimes incapable of engaging in physical work, like the ploughing of our land. The effects of sickness include physical tiredness, headaches and the like, which can last for up to one month.

What other negative effects does the long walk to collect water have?

Sabi: Other important home tasks, like preparing food, can make people get exhausted due to the amount of time they spend on fetching water. This is particularly difficult for women, since water fetching, food preparation, and wood collection are usually the responsibility of women in the community. Because of these workloads, other important things like children’s attendance at school are hampered.

What is the hardest challenge you have faced as group?

Sabi: The greatest challenge that communities suffer from is the shortage of food and water. They sometimes have had to overcome it by migrating to other areas.

What is your land currently like and what are your plans for your farming?

Sabi: My land is currently on the clearing phase and I plan to grow sorghum and maize soon. I will use most of it for household consumption, but I hope to use any income I make from selling crops to buy more livestock.

How do you feel about the sand dam project overall?

Sabi: When I think about the project and what we hope to achieve as a group (once the community are using and seeing the impact from the water from the sand dam for farms and livestock), I expect that we will be very happy.

Completed sand dam in southern Ethiopia.

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