In the Konso Region of southern Ethiopia, the struggle for clean, safe water is a daily reality for women and young girls.
“Bringing the water is not a simple task,” says Mariam Bakaule, a mother standing at the edge of the mountaintop village of Jarso. “This is the essence of women. Water and woman are synonymous here.”
The village of Jarso, like many of the others in the area, overlooks a vast valley stretching towards the Kenyan border. Yet the relative greenery of the region is deceptive. For the 13,000 people in Jarso, lack of rain in recent years has caused crops of maize, sorghum and haricot beans to fail.
At the center of this struggle to survive are the women and young girls whose responsibility it is to trek up to five hours a day to reach dry river beds, only to wait in long lines for scant resources. Uchiya Nallo, an eight-months-pregnant 29-year-old mother, spends half her day climbing a mountainside carrying more than 5 gallons (about 40 pounds) of water.
“The road is very dangerous and I feel tired all the time,” she says. “I am worried because sometimes I fall down and hurt myself. I worry because I feel tired. Now I am almost ready to give birth and I am walking slowly but maybe I will have some problems, I’m not sure.” […] Continue reading.