July 2012 has been a good month for hard-working Ethiopian women. Tiki Gelana became the 2012 Olympic marathon champion and Tirunesh Dibaba won at 10,000 meters. Meanwhile, the women of Tute Kunche started collecting water from their new water project. For the first time in their lives, the people of Tute Kunche can drink clear, clean water from a nearby tap. In July 2012, they completed the work on their water project. Now they are able to pump clean, protected water from a deep aquifer and distribute it to 11 public taps, distributed throughout the community of 2,316. The community owns the rights to the water. They own the pump and the generator that move the water from deep underground to a 20,000-gallon storage/distribution tank. They own the 7 miles of pipe that carry the water to the 11 public taps. And they own and operate the taps that each family visits once or twice per day to collect the household’s daily domestic water supply. Never before have they had access to enough water to meet their daily needs. Never before have they had access to water that was safe for them to drink and use for cleaning and washing. Now they have it and they have total control of it.

After 1 ⅟2 years of work on the project, the people of Tute Kunche are rewarded with clean water flowing from nearby taps. Tap attendants open the gates each morning and evening to allow community members to collect their water. Users pay the equivalent of 2 cents per 5 gallons of water. The funds are used to operate the system and to build up savings to make repairs when parts wear out.
The Tute Kunche water system supplies potable water to 11 public taps. The taps are spread out throughout the community to insure that no one has to walk or wait in line for more than 15 minutes. A UW study on the Water 1st project in the neighboring community of Bishikiltu measured time savings of more than an hour a day per household.

We look forward to visiting in February, when we will take part in the celebration of completing the project. The people of Tute Kunche have a lot to celebrate. They celebrate an end to the drudgery of walking several hours a day for water . They also celebrate the end of the anxiety they constantly felt when drinking the water they worked so hard to collect, never knowing which cup of water was going to cause the next bout of illness. They celebrate the new opportunities available to a generation of children that won’t ever have to walk miles for water or drink the murky, gray-brown liquid that used to cause so many illnesses, even deaths. And we get to celebrate the fact that we had a role in making it all happen.

If you want to join us at the Tute Kunche celebration, contact Water 1st about participating in the Ethiopia Water Tour. Travelers will also see the Bishikiltu and Kelecho Gerbi projects, which were completed in 2010 and 2011. You can also see the Gonbisa Kussaye project in progress. Contact Kirk Anderson at for more information or visit our website. Thank you to all the supporters who have made the success of this project possible. Water 1st’s Ethiopian partner, Water Action, has now completed 4 projects serving more than 14,000 people with your support. We look forward to continued success in bringing water, toilets, and hygiene education to more and more communities in Ethiopia.