Drop of Water (DoW): Hope for living driven by Ethiopia’s Youth!

Drop of Water (DoW), previously known as Help for a Drop of Water (HFDW), is a legally registered, nongovernmental, organization established by a group of seven female Mekelle University alumni students engaged in humanitarian-oriented projects. The women were inspired to form a humanitarian organization after seeing the fruitful efforts of REST (Relief Society of Tigray), which had made a lot of changes in supplying water technologies in rural communities of Tigray.

These young, passionate and innovative women achieved what others deemed impossible. With their persistence and relentless hard work, they managed to construct twenty-three water points, which are providing clean water services for more than 20,000 rural Enderta and Hentalo Wajertae provinces’ families.  Constantly motivating and inspiring each other and other youths in the field of development, these female alumni students have proven to be driven, committed and dedicated with ambitions to foster increased engagement of more youth students in the future.

Currently, DoW has achieved remarkable results on the implementation of the country’s Water Safety Plan (WSP), in the Enderta Woreda of The Tigray Regional State of Ethiopia. WSP is a pilot project aimed at small communities’ water supplies contributing immensely on the sustainability of water schemes in the country. 

The DoW project implements water safety planning in the context of small communities’ water supplies and provides a step-by-step approach for those charged with dealing with the everyday realities of maintaining a reliable, safe water supply. It addresses members of small communities themselves, in addition to those supporting them with the objectives of understanding the existing water supply system and the KAP (Knowledge Attitude Practice) of the target community with respect to WSP, and the developing and implementing of WSP in small communities’ water supplies in Enderta Woreda of the Tigray Regional State, through full involvement and participations of the community, government and REST. 

Today, DoW’s compassionate wing of helping others, stretches more widely than ever, constituting of thousands of members from different walks of life, though mainly dominated by students and young people, passionately dedicated to restoring the legacy of Ethiopia. Continuously searching further and wider lands of Ethiopia, the foundation’s dream and ultimate goal is to provide aid to the forgotten parts of Ethiopia’s small communities. 

DoW believes that university students’ participation in the developmental issues of their communities is not only a powerful step forward for the country at large, but also a citizen’s moral obligation to give back to their community. In addition to partnering with different funding agencies, NGOs, and the offices of private and public sectors, DoW also uses different strategies such as campaigning, information sharing, and networking at universities, targeting students and increasing youth involvement.

DoW’s Vision

DoW’s vision is to provide 100% access to clean drinking water, adequate sanitation and hygiene to all parts of Ethiopia.

DoW’s Mission

DoW’s mission is to support the effort of individuals and families in the poorest communities of Ethiopia and in higher educational institutions with basic developmental needs. Drawing strength from the country’s diverse resources and community members’ experiences, DoW promotes innovative solutions and advocates change to happen through indigenous knowledge and resources. Guided by the aspirations of the local communities and their members, the organization pursues its mission with both excellence and compassion because DoW believes that the people, whom they serve and are committed to support, deserve nothing less.

DoW facilitates lasting change through:

  • Reshaping the mind setup of the educated community in service provision;
  • Strengthening the local capacity for self-help;
  • Promoting women empowerment;
  • Cultivating the culture of volunteerism and sense of ownership;
  • Distributing resources equitably;
  • Enhancing the participation of the native nations in all aspects;
  • Mobilizing local and indigenous resources;

DoW’s Core Values

DoW’s core values represent the organization’s operating philosophy, its belief system, and the principles guiding its staff and partners. While DoW’s does not impose its values on other organizations, it endeavors to identify partners whose values are similar. Within these core values it must be stressed that the organization takes into consideration the partners’ integrity.

DoW’s 5 core values are:

  • T = Transparency
  • R = Respect
  • A = Accountability
  • C = Courage
  • E = Excellence

DoW’s Five-Year Goals

  • Goal 1:

To have transformed into a capacitated national civil society organization dedicated to reach the underserved societies of Ethiopia by 2021.

  • Goal 2:

To have its members, partners and alliances support women and children living in the rural parts of the country by providing access to quality integrated programs focused on health, water and livelihood. 

Meet Hermella Wondimu
Co-founder and General Manager

As a civil engineer student at Mekelle University, Hermella and her friends had had the privilege of meeting the American Hollywood actor, Matt Damon on his visit to Mekelle to address the water shortage problem with the REST project. This meeting had a profound effect on Hermella and her friends. They thought to themselves, if a foreigner can take the initiative to come across the world and help our people then why can’t we? This idea was how Drop of Water all began.

During their last years of University, Hermella and her friends worked hard to spread the word of their cause to the students on campus and beyond. Since it was a worthy cause, many willing students joined as volunteers and helped Drop of Water grow. Even after graduating, Hermella took it upon herself to run DoW as the general manager while the other founders ventured out into other businesses. She dedicated her full time and attention into building an impressive NGO that has grown into a community of over 3000 members. With the help of different funding agencies, NGO’s, government offices, the private sector, and citizens of Ethiopia, DoW has accomplished so much already, including 32 wells dug and made available to the community.

Working in an NGO proved to be very hard work, especially in confirming people’s promises to help with funding. Although, in theory digging a well can seem easy, a lot of work goes into the whole process and the stress of having to wait for funds from potential sponsors was a heavy burden on Hermella, always anxiously waiting on her end, as the many beneficiaries also waited on the other end with hopeful anticipation of their access to a clean water supply.

Hermella tirelessly managed to maintain DoW’s growth in the number of volunteers, donors and sponsors throughout the years. Managing to keep her volunteers motivated, effectively communicating to various sponsors, and personally spreading the word herself, of the cause, wherever she goes, Hermella is an inspiration to the young generation and to all Ethiopian citizens.


Water Safety Plan (WSP) Implementation

Water supply utilities and small community water suppliers worldwide are currently faced with the challenge of providing adequate safe drinking water. This is attributed to increased pollution, contamination from human waste, population growth, unplanned urban settlement and climate change. Furthermore, safety of improved water systems are neglected due to the lack of awareness among those managing and operating water utilities and small community water suppliers about the risk of contamination, pollution and the importance of quality testing. In most cases there is also the belief that once a water source is improved, it will be taken for granted in developing countries.

The World Health Organization, (WHO), recognized these challenges and came up with solutions during the revision of the WHO Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality leading to the 3rd edition in 2004, the value of the Water Safety Plan (WSP) approach. Water Safety Plans are a comprehensive risk assessment and risk management approach from catchment to consumer, with the aim of consistently ensuring the safety and acceptability of a drinking-water supply as part of the ongoing drinking water supply operations and maintenance.

Since the introduction of WSP, different countries have implemented it as a pilot project, but only four countries in Africa have; Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Malawi. Thus, a WSP conference was held with the purpose of promoting and advocating the importance of WSP in the East Africa context amongst decision makers and practitioners from all around the world.

Over 256 participants from 60 countries attended the conference, and of this, six participants designated from MoWE, CoWASH, Drop of Water and WHO represented Ethiopia.

The theme of the conference was water quality and public health with a highlight on practices and policies, including demonstrable impact on service delivery levels.

With these goals the following area of water quality and public health linkage were addressed during the conference:

  • Water safety plan implementation
  • Household treatment and safe storage
  • Risk assessment and risk management
  • Source protection
  • Health impact assessments for water quality interventions
  • Innovative policies and regulations for drinking water quality
  • Operation and maintenance of water supply systems
  • Risk-based investment planning for water supply systems
  • Community managed water supplies

Realizing the importance of WSP implementation, DOW signed a memorandum of agreement with Norwegian Church Aid, WHO and REST to pilot the initiative in Hentalo Wajertae woreda of the Tigray region. DOW is now implementing WSP on a number of its projects and more than 2300 communities are benefiting from the WSP project.

 Picture: community celebrating world water day by washing Jerrycans (local plastic water containers)

Aware – Activate – Change


Drop of Water has set up a project aimed at activating university students to support the cause of providing clean water services to rural communities and to create awareness about hygiene and sanitation. The project is actively running in Mekelle University. The project is expected to reach 5000 university students every year with training students exceeding 100 in numbers every year.

The project includes the:

  • Training of university level professionals to enable them to provide the competent support needed to create awareness in communities in dire need for potable water access;
  • Co-ordination of various DoW university-based project activities.

The project emphasizes on:

  • Enabling university students to contribute to their community by providing training and psychological awareness, through material handout and entertainment;
  • Keeping communities and university students together in solving issues mainly revolving around water and sanitation;
  • Establishing student-community based projects and coordinating structures to ensure sustainability;
  • Carefully monitoring, evaluating and recording to assure sustainability.


  • Teaching students and communities about WASH.
  • Registering members as student, staff or corporate supporters of DOW.
  • Hosting fundraising events.

Activate Members

  • Recruit students and train them on WASH issues.
  • Activating registered members to engage in community development programs.
  • Improve soft-skills, entrepreneurial-ship, and communication capacities of Ethiopian students.

Construction of 32 water wells in Enderta and Hentalo Wajertae Woreda

The problem of clean water supply and sanitation in Tigray are wide spread and still a major source of infectious and non-infectious diseases. To name a few, access to improved water supplies and sanitation facilities, coupled with improved hygiene practices such as hand washing, particularly those on child mortality reduction, achieving universal primary education, combating diseases and promoting gender equality and empowering women are on the list.

In recognition of the deficit on water supply and the lack of sanitation and hygiene awareness, the project intends to implement water supply and sanitation projects to the rural people at their nearest vicinity.


Let us introduce you to this strong young lady, Tirhas.

This 12 year-old young girl lives in Enderta Woreda, Chelecot Tabia in the rural Tigray region.

Being the oldest female in her family, Tirhas has had to bear the heavy responsibility of looking after her family members. This huge duty includes various tasks in the house, which includes feeding their cattle and mainly fetching water. Tirhas has to travel a long distance to fetch water that she gets from an unprotected spring water source that shouldn’t be used for any purpose let alone for drinking!

The worst part is that Tirhas doesn’t know what clean water is and so she assumes that the contaminated water won’t affect her. Tirhas feels this way because she was forced to drop out of school last year after only a fourth grade education. Without proper knowledge and awareness, who could blame her? She has accepted that this is how her life is going to be.

Tirhas is strong. She is worthy. She deserves all that life has to offer. We hope that the new well being planned will help change this young girl’s life dramatically.

What makes DoW Different?

Drop of Water was made possible by the dreams and efforts of seven female alumni students of Mekelle University. Each believing that they could bring about change to the struggles they saw their communities face concerning clean water access. With only a strong willingness and a commitment to the cause, these young women understood their capabilities and went to work to create an organization that has now been able to reach a large number of beneficiaries.

Involving the youth and tapping into their potential has been one of the main ways that DoW has managed to accomplish so much so far. In the University, DoW has a program entitled (AAC) which stands for Aware, Active, Change; a student-run club currently working in Mekelle University. This club promotes the cause to get more students involved. It is through these students that the projects are implemented. The students are given the necessary training and orientation before they are sent off to communities to interact first hand with beneficiaries where these projects are to be implemented. DoW makes sure that the involvement of these students helps them get a clearer picture of the concern; hoping to bridge the gap that exists between the youth and the community.

To increase it’s involvement in the community, DoW does more than just dig a well, but also implements a Water Safety Plan. One of the major problems faced after the well is dug, is the possible contamination and misuse of the water source. This happens mainly due to the lack of awareness of proper usage. Drop of Water takes the initiative to pilot the WSP plan by engaging, empowering and guiding communities in the development and implementation of safe usage for their drinking-water systems. It focuses on providing guidance on how to apply effective and achievable management actions in order to improve the safety and quality of supplied water at scale. Furthermore, committees are formed to maintain this plan and make sure that it is sustainable. DoW makes sure that the plans set in place are lasting and impactful as much as possible.

Drop of Water believes in hands-on implementation and follow-through with all of their projects.

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