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Out of school to search for water

Girls like Dawele, 14, from Ethiopia, are being forced to leave their homes and drop out of school because they have to walk several hours per day to collect water to keep their families alive.

Dawele walks for 8 hours each day to collect water for her family
Dawele walks for 8 hours each day to collect water for her family.

Please support the East Africa food crisis appeal “The situation is very disturbing in my community,” says Dawele, 14, who has been forced to leave her home in Benastmaye District, Ethiopia.

“We couldn’t deal with it anymore so we left our home. Some of my family members are still living there in difficulty. We went to stay with our relatives - that is why I am here.”

Families struggle with lack of water

She now lives with her relative Wangalle, 40, who has 6 children of his own and is struggling to deal with the effects of the drought. He makes a living through farming but has lost livestock and seen his crops fail due to the water shortages.

Wangalle and his family outside their home
Wangalle (left), is struggling to provide for his family due to food and water shortages.

“We haven’t had a harvest since last year,” he says. “I have never seen such a phenomenon in my life. You can’t even get water from the river. We were struggling to sustain ourselves by selling our remaining cattle for a low price. But now we can’t even do that as they are too emaciated.”

According to government statistics, 26 of the 32 communities in Benastmaye district have been severely affected by the lack of rainfall this year. As a result, 14% of the population are in need of emergency food assistance and more than 70,000 livestock are at risk of dying. 

The shortages have led thousands of people, including girls like Dawele, to move in search of food and water.

Girls forced to leave school

The family’s food and water supplies are so low that Dawele has had to drop out of school. She says, “There is no rain in our community. We walk for more than 8 hours every day to get water. Because of this, I couldn’t attend class and was forced to drop out. I love mathematics and want to be a teacher but now I don’t know what my future will be.

I don’t know what my future will be

“This morning we have already eaten everything we had at home. No one knows what we will eat tomorrow.”

Plan International is working in Ethiopia to respond to the food and water shortages. Our response to the crisis focuses on nutrition, water, food security, rebuilding livelihoods and child protection.

Please support our response to the East Africa food crisis