from the field: some REST in Ethiopia.

charity: water founder and CEO Scott Harrison has spent the last week in the field working on the upcoming 2011 September Campaign. We’ll launch the campaign in late August and celebrate our five-year anniversary on September 7. In the mean time, here’s a quick update on his time with our local partners in Ethiopia:

Hi, friends —

I’m writing from a town called Hawzien in the Tigray region of Northern Ethiopia. It’s my 15th visit to Ethiopia in four years, and it’s probably my favorite country that charity: water works in. We’ve spent the last week in the field with A Glimmer of Hope (our country partner for Ethiopia) and specifically with our local implementing partner in Tigray, an organization called REST (Relief Society of Tigray). Together with your help, we’ve been making incredible progress here.


REST is now 32 years old, and is still led by its co-founder Tekloine, who is considered a hero in these parts; a man for the people. During the famine in the late 1980s, he helped march 160,000 Tigrayan people to Sudan and feed them. After the communist regime was overthrown, he convinced many of the freedom fighters to turn swords into plowshares and help him bring the people out of extreme poverty.

When I first came up here on a visit in 2008, I saw an incredible opportunity to go deep in Tigray — to move the needle towards total water coverage. All the key components seemed to be in place: a visionary leader we could trust, an organization with skilled national staff, high integrity, strong fiduciary controls and finally, a rural population in extreme need of clean water. REST was also brimming with intangible qualities like heart, grit, dedication and pure motivation. They hadn’t yet done the kind of individual project reporting charity: water requires of our partners (completion photos + GPS coordinates of every project), but were eager to learn and deliver.

If you’ve been following our work in the last four years, you’ve seen and heard plenty of the stories we’ve brought home from Ethiopia.

You’ve seen muddy water holes and you’ve listened to women talk about five-hour back-breaking trips for dirty water. You’ve seen leeches in contaminated open springs and heard about hyena attacks at night as the women and children fetch water from great distances.

But most importantly, you’ve been a part of the solution here. You funded more than 1,000 hand-dug wells, deep drilled wells, spring protections and rainwater harvesting systems, and you helped more than 370,000 people here get access to life’s most basic need.



Here’s a snapshot of the work you’ve made possible in the last three years; how your donations have grown REST’s local capacity to construct life-saving water projects:

In 2008, REST had 103 people working in their Water Programs.
Today, they have 216 people.

In 2007, REST built 257 total water projects.
This year, they’ll build more than 750 with
charity: water funds alone.

In 2007, the total clean water coverage in Tigray was 33%.
Today, it’s 49%.

In the last four years, you’ve funded over 1,000 water projects with REST that will serve more than 374,000 people with clean water.

It’s an important achievement in a short time, and it’s all because of your generosity. Stay tuned — we have some very exciting plans for Tigray and a big announcement coming this fall.

– Scott Harrison
charity: water founder
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