Meserete Wogeram (Gurage Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region)
Meserete Wogeram kebele (parish) is about 150km south-west of Addis Ababa on the upper slopes of a mountain ridge rising to an altitude of 3,450 m ( 11,300 feet).
The population of about 8,530 people live in 12 villages linked by paths and stony tracks. A single rough road winds up from the valley below to the school at about 2,600m.
The green of the ensete (false banana) plantations in the farmland gives an impression of lush vegetation. However, many areas of land have become unproductive due to the degradation of natural vegetation and severe soil erosion.
Most families make a living from small scale subsistence farming, mainly growing staple crops such as ensete (false banana), and also raising livestock. The farming is poor and many men have to leave their homes and families to find work in cities.
Natural forest is preserved on some steep slopes but is under threat from grazing. Bee keeping in the forest, using improved hives provided by SUNARMA, provides an additional income and boosts household nutrition for many families.
There is widespread deforestation and soil degradation but poor access has meant that it has largely missed out on help from the government and NGOs.
SUNARMA's (www.sunarma.org ) project aimed to address these problems through a watershed management project combining improved agricultural practices, forest protection and livelihoods development.
This work highlighted the desperate need for access to clean water. Most villages have access to water from springs within a distance of 1 to 2 km.
However, in their natural state they become contaminated by animals which come to drink or through human waste, people washing clothes or bathing in the water
Capping the spring protects the water from contamination. In many cases the work includes provision of drinking troughs for livestock, micro‑irrigation and clothes washing facilities.
Having access to clean, safe water close to homes improves health through a reduction in waterborne diseases, reduces the time spent fetching it, and frees up time for education, work, family and social life.
In order to have a bigger impact, access to clean water is combined with hygiene and sanitation improvements and training.
In 2016 and 2017 SHEPE provided funding for the protection of three springs. Together these will provide clean water for over 1000 people. Our funding also provided for a storage tank that fills overnight and supplies a school and homes below.
SHEPE is one of the organisations funding SUNARMA's menstrual hygiene project which is being implemented with a local women's group (about 100 women) and the school.
The project includes the construction of a girls’ room at the school, menstrual hygiene education, the development of a small enterprise to make reusable sanitary pads and research into current knowledge and beliefs
In March 2017 we visited this school, at an altitude of 3,440m (11,000 feet), which had been built by the community.
The corrugated roofs and "wattle and daub" walls keep the weather out but in the rainy season the floors become mud and children get skin diseases from having wet feet all day.
A group of scouts in the UK had raised enough money to concrete one classroom floor. We added enough to do two more and an adjacent staff room.
Thanks to a huge effort from the local community the money from the UK actually allowed eight floors to be completed.
SHEPEthiopia is a working name for the "Support for Health and Education Projects in Ethiopia", UK charity No. 1161261
Page updated 13/06/2019