Traffic Jam at the Well

Ethiopia well

After waiting for hours to fill their jugs, many villagers will lug the water 10 miles or more to their homes, beyond the mountain in the background. Photo by Benjamin Krause/CRS

Benjamin Krause, a CRS International Development Fellow in Ethiopia, sends in this story from the field.

Having lived in Chicago, Detroit and Washington D.C., I’ve growled and huffed my way through plenty of traffic jams. But while checking up on some of CRS’ agricultural projects in southern Ethiopia, I was shocked by the jam we found . . . at the well.

Well over 100 women and children were waiting patiently next to their bright yellow, blue and green jerry cans. The line snaked all around the borehole and nearly out of sight.

“How long does the line take?” I asked one of the women.

After a long pause, she responded: “Sometimes half a day, sometimes more.”

“And where do you live? How far do you have to carry the water?”

She responded by pointing to a mountain so far off I hadn’t noticed it before. One of our partners told us that it was almost 10 miles away and that many of the villagers live even beyond it.

CRS is doing a lot of tremendous work with water in Ethiopia, and I hope that we can come back to help these people very soon. Nobody likes sitting in a traffic jam, but more importantly, this idle time is a tremendous waste of human resources in a country where so many people are struggling to make ends meet.

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One Response to “Traffic Jam at the Well”

  1. Mick Smith Says:

    The plight of clean water is a call for us to assist in providing answers to lack if water.

    What could be done? A water response team that can provide their services, digging wells or pump stations to minimize the individual and villages need for water A team of individuals that could go to assess area’s need for water and then create a plan that best suits the needs of villagers get water. The team would the either drill a borehole well or devise and install a pump to provide water to the people.

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