The Government has been working hard to accelerate water provision and sanitation in the rural areas of Eritrea in partnership with the local and international community. In line with this, the water problem in Adi-Bidel village is being alleviated.
A microdam with a capacity of 90 000 cubic meters of water has been constructed in Adi-Bidel at a cost of 2.3 million Nakfa, and already has 70,000 cubic meters of water. The micro-dam, located 22 km south-west of Asmara town, is expected to facilitate irrigation farming on 9 hectares.The Ministers of agriculture and education, Mr. Arefaine Berhe and Mr. Semere Russom, the Administrator of the Central region, Mr. Tewelde Kelati, and invited guests attended the inauguration ceremony.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Tewelde Kelati called on the local inhabitants to properly manage the new facility and plant seedlings to protect it from flooding. In a related report, the construction of a micro-dam in Aderada, 21km. North-west of Asmara, at a cost of some 3 million Nakfa has been finalized. The micro-dam that was constructed in collaboration with Wina Construction Company and the people has a capacity of 300,000 cubic meters. The inhabitants of the area commended the government for the effort and said that the dam would step up their contribution in development endeavors. Aderada is located about.
It was like a dream for the over 1000 people of Adi-Bidel village to see water running from a nearby water source after 16 years of independence. From all corners of the village, men, women and children ran immediately to the water point, as if they had never seen water before.Like most Eritreans, the people of Adi-Bidel are farmers (dependent on rain-fed crops) and pastoralists.
With the blazing sun and hot climate, it is hard to believe that humans are able to survive here by fetching water from such far places. Only older generations remember the lush green hills and abundant harvests. A drought which started four years ago transformed the landscape into a desert where the main occupation is a daily search for food and water. Every day, girls walk 10 to 15 km bearing the adult responsibility of providing water for their families.
Ghirmawith and her friends spend entire days far from their home and are not going to school anymore. "I stopped going to school at the semesters break because I spend most of the night and the whole day searching for water," says Ruth. "I stood fourth last year in my class but this year I had no good performance because I had little time to study. At last I just gave up going to school."
The ground water level has decreased from year to year with the failure of rain. Deepening the wells is not a solution any more as the ground water cannot be reached without sophisticated drilling equipment. Drought, combined with conflict, produced a food and water crisis in Eritrea. Thousands of people have died and many more have been displaced. To survive, families have been sacrificing their animals for immediate consumption.
While the long-term work is focusing on improved food security by facilitating the recharge of ground water levels through construction of check and subsurface dams as well as introducing dry land farming techniques, use of modern technologies cannot be ignored.
To increase yields and decrease the chronic food shortage, it is imperative that the government provides a conducive environment for the business community to address the issue of drought. Granting them a tax holiday on efforts to provide water such as importing relevant machines will spur incentives to invest in the venture. Already, countries in northern Africa and parts of East Africa are experimenting on artificial rain-making technologies. Eritrean experts should not insulate themselves from such advances.
With soft drink companies able to supply their drinks in very remote regions, partnerships between the government, private sector and business will deliver the remedy required to access water, farm inputs and machines.
By Dr. Ravinder Rena
Eritrean Institute of Technology
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