Yonas Bade, a farmer and local volunteer from the district of Kindo Koysha in southern Ethiopia (2017).

Volunteer puts others first during Ethiopian drought

Since 2015, failed rains, combined with an El Nino weather phenomenon, have left millions of people across Ethiopia in desperate need of food and water. Yonas Bade, a farmer and local volunteer, decided to build a road with his own means to ensure water distribution by the Ethiopian Red Cross Society.

Deep in the heart of the district of Kindo Koysha in southern Ethiopia, the road system is rudimentary. When volunteers from the Ethiopian Red Cross Society wanted to start distributing emergency water rations to the most vulnerable of families, getting there was a noted challenge. But, with people like Yonas Bade, a farmer and local volunteer on hand, it was a challenge that would be quickly overcome.

The maize, teff and sweet potato farmer and local volunteer was able to sow and cultivate last year but, like other farmers, says the harvest has been shrinking for several years now. When Bade heard about the volunteers’ plan to distribute water, he wanted to ensure his village was on the truck route.

For the water truck to come to this village, there was no road for it to travel. I used my own donkey and cart to put down stones to make a small road and I organized people here to help,” Bade explains. Now the truck delivers water every four days; sometimes it takes longer.

In Kindo Koysha, the Ethiopian Red Cross has reached more than 93,000 people with 1.3 million liters of potable water. The drought has now shifted to the south and southeast. With crops unable to be sown, an estimated 5.6 million people will be in need of emergency food rations in the coming months.

This story is published as part of the campaign for International Volunteer Day 2017: Volunteers Act First. Here. Everywhere.