National Geographic : 2010 Apr
nine projects out of 35 built were functioning. Today a U.K. -based international nonpro t organization called WaterAid, one of the world's largest water-and-sanitation charities, is tackling the job of bringing water to the most forgotten villages of Konso. At the time of my visit, Water- Aid had repaired ve projects and set up com- mittees in those villages to manage them, and it was working to revive three others. At the health center in Konso's capital, it was installing gutters on the sloped roofs of the buildings to conduct rainwater to a covered tank. e water is now being treated and used in the health center. WaterAid is also working in villages like Foro, where no one has successfully brought water before. eir approach combines tech- nologies proven to last---such as building a sand dam to capture and lter rainwater that would otherwise drain away---with new ideas like installing toilets that also generate methane gas for a new communal kitchen. But the real innovation is that WaterAid treats technology as only part of the solution. Just as important is involving the local community in designing, building, and maintaining new water projects. Before beginning any project, WaterAid asks the community to form a WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) committee of seven people---four of whom must be women. e committee works with WaterAid to plan projects and involve the village in construction. en it maintains and runs the project. e people of Konso, who grow their crops on terraces they have painstakingly dug into the sides of mountains, are famous for hard work, and they are an asset---one of Konso's few---in the quest for water. In the village of Orbesho, residents even built a road themselves so that Writer Tina Rosenberg and photographer Lynn Johnson reported on India's village health workers in the December 2008 issue. At a streetside laundry business in an Addis Ababa slum, Muntaha Umer earns a dollar a day washing men's clothes---only men can afford to pay---in filthy water.