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Ethiopian water utility delegates visit Yorkshire Water

Over the past two weeks Manaye Siyoum from WaterAid and Zelalem Assefra from Debre Tabor Water Utility in Ethiopia have been finding out how Yorkshire Water supplies quality drinking water and treats waste water. 

Manaye is Head of WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) at WaterAid Ethiopia. Zelalem is the Utility Manager at Debre Tabor Water Utility which has 75 employees and serves a population of 85,000. 

Manaye and Zelalem have travelled across Yorkshire visiting clean and waste water treatment works, looking at small community treatment facilities, water boreholes and pumping stations whilst noting down information and processes that they can apply to operations back home in Ethiopia as protecting the quality of groundwater borehole sources are big issues for them.

Nearly half the population in Ethiopia, 42 million people, doesn’t have access to safe water. Most people in the country make a living through farming however, without water they can’t grow the crops they need to feed and support their families.

Manaye and Zelalem also spent time at Yorkshire Water’s headquarters finding out how the company manages customer services, billing systems and the regulatory requirements it operates within.

The visit is part of Yorkshire Water’s unique ‘Big Wish for Ethiopia’ campaign that brings together all its fundraising, volunteering, influencing, customer awareness and skills sharing activities for charity WaterAid. It’s the first water company to undertake this approach and believes that this campaign will help to raise £1m and bring clean water to 130,000 people in Ethiopia over the next five years.

It wasn’t all work, work, work! Manaya and Zelalem also had the chance to mix business with pleasure and enjoyed sight-seeing and behaving like tourists enjoying the beautiful scenery whilst they were in Yorkshire. In Scarborough they experienced the beach, fish and chips and seaside rock all for the very first time! 

The visit ended on a high when they accompanied Yorkshire Water and WaterAid colleagues to the EDIE Sustainability Leaders Awards which celebrate real sustainability excellence in London last week. The Yorkshire Water and WaterAid partnership had been shortlisted for the CSR, Charity and Community Award.

Summing up his experience Manaye said; "The visit to Yorkshire Water was wonderful. Yorkshire is different to the rest of the UK; everyone we met were friendly and hospitable, they were open to sharing their knowledge and committed to working with WaterAid to making a lasting difference to the people of Ethiopia. We have learned so much and will be looking at how we can develop this learning for utilities in Ethiopia.” 

“The partnership with Yorkshire Water exceeds our expectations, there is no limit to what we can accomplish together to realize our common vision of seeing everyone everywhere with water, sanitation and hygiene education.” 

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