The difference your donation makes

A group of young women in the Afar region of Ethiopia

In 2016, donations by CARE supporters to our first Help Her Live, Learn and Earn campaign enabled CARE to run projects around the world to help girls and women to survive and thrive and so to fulfil their potential.

Those donations were doubled by the UK government – with the UK Aid Match funds going directly to a water, sanitation and women’s rights project in the Afar region of Ethiopia

Here’s how that project changed the lives of some of the poorest and most marginalised people in Afar.

Woman in Ethiopia collecting water from a tap
Medina collecting water from one of the taps installed by the UK aid match project

Safe water for people to drink

Collecting water is traditionally a woman’s job. Before, women had to collect water from the river – water that was not clean or safe to drink. Or they had to dig a hole in the sand and wait many hours for water to seep into the hole. Some villages had a hand pump for water, but these were physically demanding to use – especially for children, elderly or pregnant women – and also broke a lot.

To compare the hand pump to the solar-powered pump is like comparing night to day. – Asakwa

Ferehenu is just one community helped by the project. There, a solar pump has replaced a hand pump. Pipes are being laid to connect the pump to a water tank which in turn will feed two water points.

A pipe leading across the desert to a water tank
Laying a pipe connecting the water pump to the water tank serving the village of Ferehenu

Water for livestock = more income for poor people

People in Afar are pastoralists and rearing livestock is their main source of food and income. Before, they had to take their animals every day to the river to drink – a journey of several hours. Taking the animals, letting them drink, and bringing them back to the village took up the whole day.

Animals passing a water tank in the semi-desert
A woman with her livestock passing the water tank serving the village of Gomodoli

In Gomodoli, a reservoir has been built with a motorised pump powered by a generator (the community plans to replace this with a solar-powered generator). As well as taps and a sink station for people to use, there is also a cattle trough. Now the animals just drink from the trough – people don’t need to take them to the river.

With the time we save not taking the cattle to the river, we will be able to help the women with tasks like building houses [traditionally a job for women] and looking after the children, and women can go the market and generate an income. – Mohammed

The water system is future-proofed

The water system is managed by a committee made up of community members. All households agree to pay a monthly fee for their water which the committee uses to manage the running and upkeep of the water system. The project is training 13 community members with the technical knowledge and skills to maintain the systems.

Improved sanitation and hygiene = people are healthier

Communities have been trained on personal hygiene and waste management. Now people have stopped open defecation and dig their own latrines. Since these changes, there has been a reduction in the number of sick children.

A man holding a flag next to a latrine
Esse Mohammed displaying a flag showing that more than half of the villagers are now using a latrine: he uses different coloured flags to reward and motivate the villagers

Menstrual hygiene awareness and support = empowered women and girls

Menstruation is a taboo subject in many rural communities. During their period, girls and women often stay at home because of stigma and the lack of sanitary products.

The project has trained teachers in Afar to run hygiene and gender equality clubs in schools. So far, we have trained two teachers from each of the six schools in the area.

I like running the club because I can help the girls who are afraid, when girls have their period they are not active at school and they miss school but this has changed. – Ayal, teacher

Rabyas, a young woman in a classroom in Ethiopia
Rabya, age 18, one of the young women participating in a menstrual hygiene club 

The clubs give the girls sanitary pads and underwear which means they will be comfortable and able to attend school, even when it’s their period – meaning they don’t miss out on an education and the chance to fulfil their potential. The schools also run mixed gender classes to teach boys and girls about what menstruation is, removing some of the stigma that surrounds it.

I now have my personality back because I am free to be myself and am not constantly worrying. - Rabya, age 18

Better lives now – and better futures – for girls and women

The changes brought by the project are empowering girls and young women to follow their ambitions. Rabya, age 15, says: “I want to be a teacher who produces doctors and other professionals to help my community.” She told us:

I want to be a change agent for women.

Rabyas, a schoolgirl in Ethiopia

And the project is changing male attitudes too, meaning that the daughters of men like Awalo, a community leader in Billu village, can grow up to live, learn and earn, and help create healthier and more prosperous lives for themselves, their families and their communities. As Awalo says:

The past 15 years has been spent in the dark, and now we are in the light.

Awalo, a community leader in Ethiopia, with his daughter