The Social Issue of the Lack of Fresh, Clean Water in Ethiopia

Categories: Water Quality

The biggest social issue that has been going on in Ethiopia is the lack of fresh clean water. Certain villages are so remote that the only water that is readily available to them is dirty, mudding, and possible infested water. These people know that this water is not good for them, but they have no other choice unless they want to walk for miles to the nearest lake. There are what is call water spots were a well was dug and fresh water is being pulled out, but these “spots” only can service the groups that are willing to travel to them.

There are so few of these water spots that still over 34 of Ethiopia is still without fresh water,

Within these tribal communities the women and girls are the ones that are responsible for finding and gathering fresh water for their families. Due to this responsibility the women usually have to walk several miles' daily to get to the nearest source of water.

May that be a lake, river, water spot, or even a mud puddle from the rain the night before. When is does rain the women do not hesitate to gather the water in the muddy puddles. They know that using this water is not good from them, but form many this is their only source for water. Because they are using this water to drink and wash clothes in their children are always sick as one community mother says her children always have "stomach aches, stomach aches, stomach aches”.

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One of the greater concerns, is in the summer when the rivers may dry up the young women have to travel even further for water and may be beaten or even abducted for marriages by other tribes.

To try and fight this problem Ethiopia has installed several what is called "Water Spots" near several villages. These water spots are basically wells that have been drilled down to provide fresh water to several villages at once. The down side is that there are not many of these water spots and unless their village is close to one they may still have to walk many miles to travel and villagers may not want to take that risk, or the water spot might not be in walking distance. At many of these water spots outsiders are not welcome and have to wait until everyone else is finished or in some cases have to fight for a spot in line. 

Even though several of these water spots were installed and producing water now are nonfunctional. This is due to the fact says Meselich Seyoum representative of “Water Aid” that the companies that installed the water spot came in and dug the bore and installed the well, but they never came back to maintain them nor did they teach any of the villagers what to do to keep it running. Now in every village there are several villagers that are taught how to maintain these wells and even build new ones. There are also a couple of groups that are actively involved with trying to get fresh water to these villages these are "Water Aid" a British based fresh water support group. Then there is “Water Action” which is a Ethiopia based group that has actually dug most of the wells. Between these two companies they have built 16 wells and dug 32 bore holes, but they say at the rate at which their going it will take another 40 years before all of Ethiopia will have access to fresh water.

Adaptive strategy (Kottak 131) is a groups way to change how they do things to better work with the environment that they are trying to make a living in. Due to the location of many of these villages that have had to adapted to how they get water and what is acceptable to drink. Water in this rural villages is how most of them make a living without water they can't water their crops, water their livestock, and of course water to drink themselves. These people have to forage for a lot of their food and their water foraging is a way of life for them without it they would no longer exist. Walking long distances to gather water from rivers, lakes, or water spots, just for a day and then get up the next day and do it all over again (Kottak 131).

One of the biggest things that these villages do to make a living is Horticulture which is defined as “Horticulture uses simple tools such as hoes and digging sticks to grow their crops”. (Kottak 134) and without a supply of fresh water some villages would not be able to support themselves. Another topic that relates to this video is "Mean of Production” which is where people of a nonindustrial country have a larger relationship with their produced because they know just how much work, time, and effort went into make it. (Kottak 139) The Ethiopians know what their time is worth and know it can be better sent then having to forge for water. Like in the video instead of spending so much time forging for water the wife of the family was able to stock pile months of cereal for her family. The finial topic I want to touch one is Reciprocity which can be found on (Kottak 145) These villages are not only getting the water spots that these groups are helping to put in, but the villagers are taught how to fix, maintain, and build more water spots. Which is a huge thing these villages pride themselves to be self-sufficient. When one village knows how to build them they can pass that information one to the next one and each village can be self-sufficient.


  1. Kottak, Conrad Phillip. Cultural Anthropology: Appreciating Cultural Diversity. 15th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2013. Print

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The Social Issue of the Lack of Fresh, Clean Water in Ethiopia. (2021, Oct 31). Retrieved from

The Social Issue of the Lack of Fresh, Clean Water in Ethiopia
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