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Water keeps El Nino affected girls in school

El Niño-caused droughts have caused many Ethiopian girls to miss classes. This series of photos shows how water pumps installed by Plan International are keeping them in school.

Sheshig, 13, lives in a town outside Lalibela, Ethiopia. The El Niño-induced drought has had a major impact on her education as she’s often had to fetch water rather than go to school. With the support of Plan International, Shesheg no longer has to skip class as has to access to clean water, just 5 minutes from her home.

Sheshig writing on a blackboard at school
Sheshig was forced to miss classes to collect water for her family.

Shesheg wants to become a doctor and attends a school that is supported by Plan International Ethiopia. However, her life was extremely difficult before the water pump was installed in her village.

I used to be late for class a lot, or miss class altogether

“Before this pump arrived we’d have to walk 3 hours to fetch clean water,” she says. “I’d carry a jerry can of about 25 litres every morning and then go to school. I used to be late for class a lot, or miss class altogether.”

Shesheg walking to collect water
Before the local water pump was installed, Shesheg had to walk for 3 hours to collect water.

Missing classes wasn’t the only hazard she faced. Shesheg would often get harassed on her journey to collect water.

She says: “I’d get some of the local boys throwing stones at me while I went to fetch water from school. I ended up going with friends to fetch water but it would still happen. It was only if we were with an adult that the stone throwing would stop and that wasn’t always possible as our families have to work so that we can survive. It would leave me feeling so frightened.”

Women collecting water
Having a local water pump helps keep girls like Shesheg safe.

 I can focus on my studies

Now, Shesheg feels much more secure because she only has to travel a short distance to collect water from the new pump. “Thanks to the new pump near home I don’t feel as worried anymore. It means I can focus on my studies. I want to be a doctor when I grow up so getting a good education is really important to me.

“I’ve definitely noticed a difference since the water pump arrived. I am a lot happier now”, says Shesheg. 

Shesheg at school
The new water pump has allowed Shesheg to stay in school and pursue her ambitions.

To date, 1,665 people from 333 households have been helped by the local water pump.

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