March 2017 Update

Prospective Ethiopia Water Project – Update

From Rotarian Jo Butler

I have good internet today so I thought I would write to inform you all about new developments. I spent yesterday in Sodorre meeting government water officials and visiting the borehole. The great news is that after three years of trying, we were finally given permission to test the water quality of the borehole. The humongous generator powering the pump had not been operational for eight years. The community had refused to use the water saying that it was too salty. We now know that they meant too much sodium fluoride, not salt (lost in translation!). The generator’s battery had long died, so we hired a few clever locals who let us use the battery from their dilapidated, but working, Toyota truck. They installed the truck battery into the generator and the pump started working. Thus, we were able to collect enough water to send to the laboratory in Addis for testing. If the water is found potable, once purified, we may be able to use new technologies available for de fluoridation (e.g. HAP technology). This would considerably reduce the overall cost of the project. Thus far we have been working with the local and district water officials, but yesterday we also met with the regional water authorities (East Shoa Water, Minerals and Energy) and have found them to be much more knowledgable. The head of this office has promised to assign a government engineer to this project to help ensure its realization.

I am very excited about the progress I made yesterday and wanted to share this with you. We should have the water analysis within two weeks and I will share this with you once received. Of course, whether we use de-fluoridation technology will depend on the rest of the composition of the water and whether it can be properly purified from all toxic elements. If it is finally concluded that the pipeline is the best and perhaps only option, I will try to reduce the overall costs of the project.

Last week, I met the President (Sharon Ashton) of another Rotary club in Addis, Rotary Club West. She is Canadian and very dynamic and active. Her club has spearheaded several water projects in urban areas in Ethiopia in collaboration with the Seattle Rotary Club (you will recall that I met the person leading this project, Larry Logue, when I was in Seattle in September and he will be in Addis for the water celebration). Rotary Club West is having an Ethiopia Water day on the 22nd of March in celebration of World Water Day. I will attend this meeting and make a presentation about our potential rural water project. There are several local NGOs working on water and other issues (e.g. Splash and Institute for Sustainable Development) who are willing to help us. By the way, Sharon informed me that her club had benefitted from two global grant projects in Ethiopia over the past few years, one for $225,000 and another for $125,000.

Hope all is well in Frederick. Please give my warm regards to my fellow Rotarians. 

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