As part of an Engineers Without Borders team, Bechtel colleagues worked with the village of Weledi to build latrines and handwashing stations at the public marketplace to prevent water-borne illnesses.
The Ethiopian town of Weledi is a hub for thousands of people in the country’s northern highlands near Africa’s Great Rift Valley. With the only paved road for miles, it’s where people from throughout the region come for medicine and health care, school, and shopping.
Just 200 miles from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, Weledi and the surrounding 18 villages have limited, primitive public sanitation facilities, contributing to health risks for the community and the thousands of people who visit the market on a regular basis. While about 75 percent of Ethiopia’s health challenges are attributed to disease from unsafe water and poor sanitation, these environmental hazards, combined with malaria and poverty, give the Weledi area a high mortality rate.
Weledi Sanitation | Ethiopia
The townspeople were involved in the health assessment, water and soil testing, and a road survey in preparation for the construction. Bechtel volunteers and their teammates trained students from the community to test water quality using a pH meter and Petrifilm. They also helped review the community’s existing health activities, which enabled the town to develop a plan to expand its health education and prevention programs. This included partnering with the non-governmental organization Outreach Ethiopia to distribute educational and health supplies to families.
The team provided the engineering, local procurement, and construction supervision to build the latrines, which will contain waste and prevent groundwater contamination. Bechtel volunteers and their teammates also collaborated with schools and clinics to teach water, sanitation, and hygiene management.
The sustainable outcomes are notable. The project will benefit nearly 10,000 people. The latrines will enable market vendors to keep their stores open longer, increasing their income to support their families. Everyone will have access to cleaner, safer restrooms, as well as the knowledge to prevent illnesses from environmental hazards.
It was great to apply our skills to help the town. Through better sanitation, access to clean water, and local know-how, the Weledi community is more resilient.
people will benefit