Peninsula Daily News
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“The object was to aid the tribe in adapting to sedentary ways” from its former nomadic culture, said Grant Meiner, immediate past president of the Port Angeles morning club and co-chairman with Grant Munro of the club's International Service Committee.
The Nor'wester Rotary Club was the international sponsor of a Sustainable Clean Water and Disease Prevention grant through the Rotary Foundation.
Members — primarily Meiner and Munro — worked on oversight and in an administrative capacity with another Rotary Club in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to implement and administer the grant and to coordinate with Global Team for Local Initiatives, a relief organization that worked directly with the tribe in Ethiopia.
“Before it was all over, more than $80,000 was spent,” Meiner said, adding that Nor'wester Rotary contributed about $5,000 in addition to administering the entire grant.
The money was used to drill wells to provide clean water and develop sanitary conditions for the tribe, he said.
Until recently, the Hamar tribe had lived much as they had for generations, following their livestock in search of grazing grounds.
But drought and war forced change, and they could no longer be nomadic, Meiner said, adding that their livestock was dying, and women had to walk miles to fetch dirty water.
“Dehydration, malnutrition, polluted water and lack of sanitation and hygiene combine to produce epidemic levels of preventable disease,” Meiner said earlier this year.
Global Team for Local Initiatives built latrines and dug water wells.
Tribal members were encouraged to adapt to new ways, Meiner said.
After the two-year project, which ended this summer, “from what we have been able to learn, they are beginning to adapt,” Meiner said.
The tribe is learning how to maintain the wells and how to earn money to buy spare parts for the wells, so their access to clean water is sustainable, he said.
“Reports from [Global Team for Local Initiatives] and those in the field is that it was successful,” he added.
“Wells were producing water, latrines were being used, and people were adapting.
“The Hamar people are already beginning to enjoy increased health and a better way of life because of the efforts of Nor'wester Rotary,” he said.