Published Sun, Jan 20, 2019
In 2013, when Adams Thermal Foundation (ATF) initially took over the operation of the school in Ottoro, they discovered the spring-sourced, gravity-fed system that had supplied water to the school was dried up and the infrastructure degraded. This marked the beginning of the Ottoro Water Project. A temporary solution was put in place when an alternative active spring was located and the infrastructure repaired. While water was once again flowing to the school, the supply was limited and would need to be upgraded further and stabilized.
Adams Thermal Foundation retained a water engineer and, working in conjunction with local government officials, began the search for a higher elevation spring source that could serve the school and local community for the long-term. The water team identified a source 4.6 kilometers away from the school at an altitude of 9,065 feet above sea level. The spring had a capacity of 1.4 liters per second and could easily fill most of a 50,000 liter reservoir overnight. Another smaller source with a capacity of 0.4 liters per second was located nearby. So negotiations began with local government and zone officials to cap both springs and distribute the water down the mountain with a gravity-fed distribution system. There were two primary issues to negotiate. First, the rights to cap the springs and use the water. The second issue was to establish ownership, administration and maintenance responsibilities so that the system would be kept in good working order. Agreements were made with both the Ottoro community, called the Duna woreda (district) and the neighboring Tembaro community, called the Bada woreda.
Vital to the success of the water project was the contribution of labor by members of the community. This labor served as the only investment the local community could offer. However, it also ensured maximum engagement and ownership by the community so that the long-term viability of the water system could be guaranteed. The community also provided some of the building materials that could be harvested nearby. Men and women, young and old, brought their farming hand-tools and began digging a trench for the water pipeline all the way up the mountain. Those who could not work came to offer encouragement and prayers for the laborers. No roads could access the water points or sources so all the supplies including sand, rock, cement, rebar, pipe, valves and fittings had to be walked up the mountain on donkeys and horses.
When the water was officially turned on on Tuesday, December 11, 2018, seven (7) villages comprised of 550 households and an estimated 3,300 users began receiving fresh, clean water daily through local distribution points just minutes away from their homes and Adams Thermal Academy Ottoro is tapped into the end of the new pipeline. The 560 students at the Academy are finally enjoying the permanent benefits of good sanitation, clean hands and faces, and pure water to drink as they grow and learn. Best of all, children are in school rather than fetching water several hours each day for their families.