As an organisation championing grassroots women leadership, the Dalocha Women Water Development Association (DAWWDA) grew from being a project to become a development partner for ActionAid. The 16 year-old DAWWDA was founded in Dalocha woreda, Silte Zone of the Southern State, 230 km south of the capital. This was the very first area where AAE started working a quarter of a century ago.
DAWWDA has now supplied clean water to the Dalocha population of over 127,000 for more than 18 years.. The clean water kiosks are built at 0.5 km radius saving women and girls between six to eight hours travel (per day in search of water from unprotected sources. The health, economic and social development impacts of this project are immense. The project currently employs about 100 permanent and contract workers in its 48 water kiosks.
DAWWDA’s sustained and effective leadership by women has been the model for ActionAid to share and scale up nationwide. DAWWDA took illiterate Dalocha women with little public experience, and gave them the tools and confidence to participate and represent the local community. As a centre showcasing women’s capacity to manage and lead, this rural organisation challenged the age-old negative attitudes against women’s public roles and leadership ability. This in turn brought about the election of women to social and political positions at various levels. ActionAid’s support to Dalocha women and their communities included awareness raising, skills training and financial support.
“Dalocha women never attended public meetings before AAE’s intervention, as it was not in our culture. Besides, they had no time for such things, as they had little time left after doing house chores and spending hours in search of water,” said Shashe Abdurahman, a Dallocha resident.
DAWWDA project’s strong aspects including it being innovative, sustainable, cost effective, scalable.These and its networking abilities won ActionAid the CSOs national Good Practice Day Award in 2013.
Dalocha is now home to a generation of women grassroots community leaders. ActionAid’s partnersship with DAWWDA is used as a model for its women focused development work. ActionAid has started 10 similar women-led water development associations in different parts of the country. Leaders of these projects went on visits to DAWWDA to learn and share their experiences. Hence, new water development associations in various parts of the country are examples to learn from and their women leadership models to replicate. A total of over 210,000 people have already benefitted from similar water projects that AAE has set up in other parts of the country.
DAWWDA has already developed a reputation at home and internationally. It has been attracting visitors including researchers and development agencies. The project has also been supported and by local, regional and the national Government. The project is showcased as a model by the national water works authority.