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RPCV Projects

Clean Water for Ethiopia: An Update

by Robert Gausman (Bodditti (1970-72)

It has been several years since we updated Ethiopian RPCVs about the Central Highlands Foundation water project in central Ethiopia.

Woman collecting water from polluted spring

Central Highlands Foundation has been working on water projects in Ethiopia for some time now and later this year we hope to complete our 10th project.  Our model has been to take mountain springs that have become terribly polluted, place a concrete cap over them for protection, construct a holding reservoir and finally install water faucets to provide perfectly pure water to local residents.

Water distribution point

With the construction of this project over 15,000 people will have access to clean water.  Unfortunately, the need is overwhelming as 60% of all Ethiopians, or 55 million people, still do not have clean water.

Concrete cap protecting spring and clean water flowing


Our ability to complete more projects such as these is limited by our funding. Over the past couple of years we have been working in partnership with Bob Waltermire’s (Bale 1970-72) Rotary club in Colorado.  Their generous support has allowed us to do more projects than we otherwise could have accomplished.  Of course, we are always looking for additional funds. What I am seeking is not for anyone to make new or additional contributions, but rather, if you were contemplating changing a charity to which you currently contribute we would like to be considered in your plans.  We are a fully exempt 501(c)3 non-profit corporation and all contributions would be tax deductible. No overhead or administrative costs are paid for out of contributions and all money goes to programs in Ethiopia.

In addition, we are working with Books for Africa in order to send a 40 foot container of textbooks to schools in southern Ethiopia later this year.

If you wish to become a donor you may send money to:

Central Highlands Foundation
c/o Robert Gausman (Bodditti (1970-72)
430 M St. SW, #310
Washington, DC 20024
Website: www.bekha.org

Editor’s note:

In addition to the project in the central highlands, Dwight Sullivan (Dodola, 1970-72) is working with a village near Axum in order to dig a well and install a solar pump to provide water to people in the area.  This would be one of the first solar water projects in the country. 

Dwight is currently in Ethiopia (February-March 2017) and sent a brief update on the progress of the wells. He and his colleagues visited Darwo to inspect last year’s projects and scope out potential sites for future projects. The lack of rain for the past four months may mean that they have to make the difficult decision to eliminate the Arusi-Ang project. The drought may last another three months, a very unfortunate event because the water is badly needed by the community.

They investigated another site near Tarcha, Agene, a project that could have a positive impact for a population of 475. The water flow measured about 2 liters per minute. The cost to construct the project is estimated to be between $13,000 and $15,000.

Shota, one of the other spring sites is very promising. It has a water flow of 10.5 liters per minutes and should be relatively easy to construct once one manages to navigate the road system, which tested the mettle of Dwight, his colleagues and their Toyota Landcruiser.

As an update on last year’s three projects, Abba Ereri is completely finished and well-constructed. It is in a lovely setting. The spring caps on Chana and Basabi Biyou are completed. Their reservoirs and water distribution points are also completed. The trenches have been dug, but no pipe has been installed to date.

There is great progress.