Ethiopia – a sight to see

August 13th, 2014

Far from the often portrayed images of a dry, dusty desolate country, Ethiopia in the rainy season is an oasis of green and spectacular landscape for those that have sight.

Ethiopia also contains one third of the world’s trachoma sufferers. A simple, easy to treat bacterium that ultimately causes blindness if untreated.

Enter The Fred Hollows Foundation who for 5 years have been tackling trachoma in Ethiopia. They have built a strong local team, distributed millions of doses of antibiotics to stop the bacterium and carried out thousands of sight restoring surgeries. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE DETAILS OF THEIR WORK.

The Fred Hollows Foundation is following the internationally recognised SAFE protocol for eliminating trachoma. 

SAFE = Surgery, Antibiotics, Face washing and the Environment

The FHF has made great inroads on the Surgery and Antibiotics parts of SAFE. Healthabitat has been asked by the Foundation to suggest ways of to better achieve the Face washing (or facial cleanliness) goal and to generally improve the living Environment (improve sanitation to reduce flies and control dust) to prevent continued re-infection. Without an improved living environment the medical interventions can be undone.

It takes around US$65 (yes $65 is correct it is not a typo) to provide the sight restoring surgery and antibiotics (the S and A) so the budget for improving the living environment (the F and E) has been set to the same amount. 

A village visit and several briefings by the Ethiopian team at the FHF put the challenge clearly.

  • Ensure the 10 water wells supplied by government partners can distribute water to 10,000 villagers who live over an area of 30 square kilometres.
  • Most importantly, ensure the precious water ends up on the faces of children, when many other demands like drinking and cooking compete for the water.
  • Measure the volumes of water, produced by all the hand pumps, distributed to each part of the village, so that changes in the prevalence of trachoma can be solidly linked to increased water availability and use.
  • Develop ways to enable local villagers to maintain the pumps to ensure the water supply is sustained,
  • Develop better ways to deliver sanitation (for this read toilets and the safe disposal of human waste) to 10,000 people, to reduce the fly population and improve health generally.

Consider the task whilst viewing some pictures below of progress to date and the people of Ethiopia.

Great Open Spaces

The wet season landscape of Ethiopia north of Addis Ababa 

Welcome Committe For New Pump Cutting The Ribbon

The village welcome to celebrate the new pump and well built by the local water authority

Village Welcome

The village welcome 

Pump And Operator Water Working Well

The Days Water Supply Water Containers Critical

Getting down to water business… pumping water and the plastic containers so essential for carrying and storing water 

The Reason

Making sure all these eyes continue to see is the reason the Fred Hollows Foundation combines medical interventions and improvements to the living environment through their SAFE work in Ethiopia.