As we launch new projects in Ethiopia, with Action For Development (AFD) as our local partners, we spoke with a community member to find out about his current challenges and what the project will mean to him.

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

Guji: My name is Guji Garsho, I am 45 years old and I am married with one child. I was born in Jinja village of Gurdo Kebele, where the Bena group is located. I rear livestock, as well as farm sorghum and maize for my livelihood.

How will Sand Dams Worldwide and AFD be supporting you?

Community member from Bena Group - Ethiopia"This project will help us to overcome our problems with critical water shortage, which will change my life for the better once it is completed. As a group, we are ready."

Guji Garsho, member of Bena Group, Ethiopia.

What is your life like now? Can you describe a typical day? 

Guji: I am currently suffering from a scarcity of water, food, and animal feed. These problems mostly occur from the first week of February up to the last week of March, when crop stocks are also decreased. This is very hard for us, as it makes us vulnerable to diseases. Our animals also lose body weight (making them weaker), exposing them to their own disease outbreaks. We cope with the hardships by cooking and eating the leaves of wild plants like Kedi and Demeko. During this difficult time, we suffer especially from food and water shortages, as well as being faced with diseases for both ourselves and our animals.

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

Guji: It is a long distance to go; my wife wakes up at around 4:00am to leave and returns in the morning at around 9:00am. The road is stony and not comfortable. Women and girls can also be in danger of rape and abduction during this difficult journey. You can also encounter dangerous wild animals on the journey.

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

Guji: I myself have been exposed to some diseases, like diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases. These diseases may last 2-3 weeks, but they can have a longer lasting effect on physical health and ability to perform tasks.

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

Guji: Children can fail to regularly attend school and sometimes they have to miss class because of the long walk. Due to traveling such long distances to get water, women often become too tired to tend to their families after they get back. And sometimes we are late moving our livestock animals.

What is the hardest challenge you have faced as group? 

Guji: The greatest problem for our people is the shortage of food, animal feed, and water. We try to address it by migrating to other areas to searching for water and food for us and our livestock.

What is your land and farming currently like?

Guji: We are currently clearing the land for cultivation, although the rainy season is elapsed at this point. I hope to be able to grow more sorghum and maize, but I do not plan to sell the crops as I do not expect to produce enough, considering the trend of my previous yields.

What are you hopes for the sand dam project?

Most importantly, the project will solve my water problem and I will be very satisfied with this.

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