Seventy percent of our planet is composed of water. However, fresh water—the irreplaceable resource we use to drink, maintain hygiene, and cook with, is extremely rare. “2.7 billion people will experience clean water scarcity for at least one month of the year.” [World Wildlife Fund, 2019] With each passing day, this global crisis will continue to affect more and more people around the world. The country of Ethiopia, located in the Horn of Africa, faces issues of clean water access like other nations in the region. Environmental drought and political instability are examples of situational factors that lead to water scarcity or hardship in accessing clean water in Ethiopia. Water.org conducted a study finding that only “42% of the population [in Ethiopia] has access to a clean water supply” and only “11% of that number has access to adequate sanitation services.” [Water.org] In a country with over 105 million people, clean water has become a privilege that few can secure, but water is an essential resource that all humans deserve.

I returned home to Ethiopia (Oromia region) after building a life for me and my family in Minnesota. Though the joy of returning home filled me with happiness and rich memories of family, I could not help but become increasingly worried and shocked about the limited access to clean water that I was observing everywhere I had the chance to visit. The water sanitation levels were so low that I was forced to purchase, and use purified bottled water, not only for drinking, but also for everyday tasks like brushing teeth. Though I had the financial resources to purchase clean water, what could be said of the family and other community members who live there? Children? Nursing mothers? Those who are ill or have weakened immune systems? They are all left vulnerable to harmful bacteria and parasites that can live in water and cause dangerous bodily harm. As I watched my children drink from bottled water, I recognized that the only difference between my beloved children and their cousins who live in the village was the opportunity given to them at birth. At that moment I knew I must do something to improve life for the community where I and my family comes from. There is a village called Falle Karofta in northern Oromia, Salaale District, where my mother came from. After some research and some help from https://tarkanfi-startwalking.org/ , I found that a clean water well-constructed in Falle Karofta may cost less than $4,000 USD and can benefit more than 1,000 people who live in the surrounding area.  My family donated to the project with a passion. I also sold t-shirts at $20 each to my close friends to raise awareness and funds to reach my targeted goal to bring a new hand-dug well and clean water access to people. Together as a family, this project was implemented with compassion and with a hope for a better life for the community.

Now, I know that one well and one family can help many, but not all. During my visit to see the water well I also discovered the lack of electricity and other barriers that prevent kids from attending or thriving in school. Those barriers include a lack of adequate income for women to support their families, a lack of access to sanitary pads for young adults and a lack of mentorship for youth.

My consistent involvement and passion in humanitarian issues helped me see the power of an individual, but I realized the world’s problems can feel too big and too intimidating to solve alone. However, when communities come together to make improvements those problems don’t seem as overwhelming. Therefore, I decided to establish the organization, Numaan.

Aanne Atomssa