Water Water Everywhere…
There are two sides to water in Ethiopia, the people who don’t have access to it and then there is the growing bottled water industry within the country.
The Water Tower of Africa
Ethiopia has been identified as the water tower of Africa due to the potential of its water wealth; as seen in the country’s resources of rivers, lakes and reserves of underground water. Unfortunately for many of its citizens this is only potential and many now do not have access to the most precious resource on this earth.
Ethiopia has a population of over 100 million as we speak. Of this population, 42.5 million lack access to safe water.
(Child drinking contaminated water)
Droughts and Floods
Ethiopia has now experienced recurring bouts of droughts and floods for the past number of years. To add injury to insult the floods after a long drought actually hinder much of the country’s ability to recover.
In rural Ethiopia, a Water.org survey found that women and children walk over 3 hours to collect water, often from shallow dirty wells or unprotected ponds they share with animals. Recurring droughts result in famine, food shortages, and water-related diseases, as people are forced to rely heavily on contaminated or stagnant water sources. It’s not just the people who are suffering its their animals as well. The majority of people in middle and lower classes in Ethiopia rely on animals for food and their income and once they suffer they simply cannot survive.
(Women and child walking to collect water in Ethiopia)
Bottled Water Production
While people queue in the streets to fill their empty jerry cans, there are now, around 50 bottled water producing plants are operational in Ethiopia. They are making money and producing vast amounts of water. Sadly, none of which will make its way into the hands of the people that really need it. Their production has now reached more than 1.3 million hectolitres and the gross value of production has passed the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Behind this enormous recent increase is foreign direct investment from countries such as China and then foreign companies such as Nestle. Locals say they feel ignored by a government that backs foreign companies interests’ over them. In the past year, government has licensed more than five plants for bottled water while failing to dig enough wells or build pipes for locals and their houses.