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ETHIOPIA: A Salesian Student’s Dream for Hope through New Wells, Safer Water

Water is essential for life. From safe drinking water, agriculture and healthy sanitation, water is desperately needed in Ethiopia. According to Water.org, only 42 percent of Ethiopia’s population has access to an improved water supply. Even fewer, 11 percent of the population, has access to adequate sanitation services. Those living in rural areas are affected even more severely.

Ethiopia is subject to intense drought which triggers food shortages and famine. Without access to water, often women and children must walk long distances to collect water, and many times the water sources they find are subject to contamination. As a result, many suffer from water related diseases and young children are even prone to death if untreated.

But thanks to a project started in 2011, by the Salesians and International Voluntary Service for Development (VIS) volunteers, five wells have been dug in the Gambella area. The wells in the villages of Ilea, Ibago, Matar, Kobuon and Seri Mejengir will guarantee water to the villages and benefit close to 1,200 people. Two more wells were dug this past April and another will be opened soon in the village of Bure, an area marked by hill rocky land and almost no roads.

The project was the dream of Andrea De Nando, a 15-year-old Italian Salesian student that was struck and killed in a pedestrian crossing near his school. He dreamed of bringing water to areas of Africa most affected by drought.  The “A Well for Andrea” project was started thanks to the efforts of Andrea’s family and the commitment of VIS volunteers. A fundraising campaign was started to collect funds to make Andrea’s dream come true, and to transform sorrow at the incomprehensible loss into hope for life in some Ethiopian villages.

“Carrying out this project in memory of my son who died two years ago enables me to do what he wanted to do, and it helps me to feel that he is still alive and with us,” explains Elisabeth Cipollone De Nando, Andrea’s mother. “At this time of the year, the temperature in the villages reaches well over 100 degrees in the shade, and I still cannot comprehend how the local people can go on for months with very little food and water.”

The wells are between 50 and 60 meters deep and are operated with hand pumps. To ensure that the wells last as long as possible, a village committee has been set up to oversee their management and maintenance. Elisabeth Cipollone De Nando was present at the opening of the wells.

“As always we were struck by the invaluable and incredible work done by the Salesian missionaries with the support of international volunteers from VIS, in an area which is one of the poorest in Africa, stricken by famine and drought,” says De Nado. “It was a cause of enormous joy and satisfaction to be able to return to the villages where the first three wells have been in operation since 2011, and to see for myself the constant use that is made of them. It was a real joy to see that they are still working well after two years, supplying the first basic necessity for human existence.”


UN Photo/Martine Perret


ANS – Ethiopia – From sorrow to life: Andrea De Nando’s wells

Water.org – Ethiopia

International Voluntary Service for Development (VIS)