UN Migration Agency Distributes Water Filters for Displaced Families in Ethiopia

Dollo Ado – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, started distributing on 20 May, self-made water filters to drought displaced communities in four kebeles (Rob Don, Haidure, Row Row and Alan) in Dolo Bay Woreda, Somali Regional State of Ethiopia.

A needs assessment conducted by IOM in the Dollo Bay and Dollo Ado Woredas in Somali Region identified 2,500 internally displaced persons (IDP) households in need of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support. In the framework of the IOM WASH programme, beneficiaries are exposed to basic water, sanitation and hygiene practices through practical sessions that target women in the communities. During the sessions, participants are introduced to a water filtering technique for ensuring the safety of water which is typically collected from ponds and seasonal rivers in the vicinity of IDP settlements.

“This water tastes bitter, and it gives us and our little ones stomach sickness,” said Mariama Oumar, a 32-year-old mother. “But it is the only water source that is accessible. This is where the animals come to drink water and the children come to swim. So it gets even dirtier.”

Using IOM-supplied five-layered water filters, displaced community members like Mariama can decrease bacterial contaminants in the water. “There are several ways to clean the water, but we were aiming to supply this low maintenance self-made water filter so that the community can easily maintain and replicate it,” said Tabata Fioretto, IOM’s WASH specialist. “Chemicals are effective for preassembled filters; however, they are unsustainable given the long distance that these hard-to-reach communities have to travel to get to a market supplying the chemicals. These people need something customized for their needs.”

In addition to water filters, IOM has also supported some communities with Emergency Shelter (ES), Non-Food Items (NFI) and the construction of 22 gender-segregated sanitation facilities comprised of latrines and bathing stalls. The facilities are also equipped with solar lights to ensure safe access after dark, given the absence of electrical connectivity in the communities. The community, and especially its women, established their own sanitation committees whose objective is to maintain the facilities. IOM awarded women representatives who championed the hygiene and sanitation initiatives within the communities with encouragement trophies.

IOM WASH assistance in Dolo Bay is supported through funding from the United States Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). WASH needs across IDP communities in Ethiopia remain vast. IOM Ethiopia is appealing for USD 1,650,000 to provide additional water, sanitation and hygiene support to 60,000 IDP beneficiaries.

For more information, please contact Alemayehu Seifeselassie at IOM Ethiopia: Tel: +251116611117 (Ext. 455), Mobile: +251911639082, Email: salemayehu@iom.int