Fighting blindness with clean water in Ethiopia

August 2018

It's World Water Week and we're celebrating the role that clean water plays in the fight against blindness. Trachoma is a painful, contagious bacterial infection which can cause blindness. It was eradicated in most industrialized nations by the 1950s but is still common in areas of the world where poor sanitation and lack of clean water are common.

Nowhere is this more evident than Ethiopia where we're currently celebrating 20 years of impact. Over 44% of the world's trachoma is found in Ethiopia with 75 million people living in endemic zones.

20 years in Ethiopia logo

But there is good news. By working alongside partners to implement the World Health Organization SAFE strategy we have distributed 44.5 million doses of antibiotics helping reduce the trachoma prevalence to less than 5% in 24 districts.

Two girls at a water point in Ethiopia

Mirtinesh and Meskerem wash their face and hands at the water point you helped fund

We have also helped set up water points like this one in Gamo Gofa where Ejigayehu and her family live. Ejigayehu is 65 years old and has 8 children. We met her and her 11 year-old twin daughters Mirtinesh and Meskerem while we were visiting the water point recently.

Before we helped set up the water point seven years ago, Ejigayehu and her children would have to walk two or three hours to get to their nearest source; and this was the local river, meaning the water was not even clean.

Thanks to God, before this construction, we went to the river... It was not clean, it was almost dirty. Now thanks to God and thanks to Orbis for this water point, now we are enjoying and using this water. Clean water!

Ejigayehu​

Family posing for photograph.

Ejigayehu​ and family are thankful to Orbis supporters for the water point

As part of the safe strategy we are also working to promote eye health in the local community, helping people to understand the link between facial cleanliness and fighting trachoma.

Thanks to the efforts of our supporters and partners we are winning the battle against trachoma, and Mirtinesh and Meskerem are able to spend more time studying.

We are very happy to have this water. As students, we are studying so we are saving time as it is very near to our house. So we are enjoying this water. Thank you!

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