“Currently, the military conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia is still ongoing after twelve months. Ethnic militia rebels, known as the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have been fighting a civil war with the national government since late 2020. The TPLF has been marching toward the nation’s capital and the Ethiopian Prime Minister has called on retired soldiers, veterans and military forces from Eritrea to assist the Ethiopian government. Ethiopia is still limiting communications and humanitarian aid in the Tigray region, so we can only get second-hand reports of events. The news we do get is very disturbing. Reports estimate thousands have died throughout the region and millions of people have been displaced. A total of 5.2 million people, 91 percent of Tigray’s population, need emergency food assistance now.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission give blame to all sides in the conflict for atrocities committed. The conflict is now considered a full-scale humanitarian crisis. The UN has called for an investigation of war crimes, and the United States has cut economic and security aid to Ethiopia, banned travel to the U.S. by officials or combatants involved in the violence or in blocking humanitarian aid, and sanctioned the head of Eritrea’s military.

As our donors know, we typically implement multiple projects in the Tigray region of Ethiopia in partnership with the Relief Society of Tigray (REST). In 2020, we planned to implement an on-going project with REST, that would see the construction of 40 new water wells. Construction on those projects is now on-hold due to the conflict. Our Founder, Dick Moeller, has contacted everyone who funded wells in this region to discuss next steps.

Since the outbreak of violence, REST has been focused on humanitarian relief. However, as some areas become safe and order is restored, they are able to focus on rehabilitation of water projects that have fallen into disrepair or were damaged during the conflict. Water to Thrive secured a $80,000 grant to fund the rehabilitation of 178 water projects. Dick Moeller, our Founder and Board President, communicated with representatives from REST and they have agreed to rehabilitate Water to Thrive projects first among those 178 projects. As the work is completed and we receive progress reports, we will provide additional updates.

Water to Thrive has three other partners in Ethiopia, one in Uganda and one in Tanzania. The work of these 5 partners has continued uninterrupted. In fact, Water to Thrive has expanded our work in the southern area of Ethiopia and is working on attaining another grant to provide water, bathroom facilities and sanitation training to 60 rural maternal health clinics there. In addition, we still hope to fund 115 wells this year and implement them in 2021 and 2022. Our plan is for our Water to Thrive staff to travel to Africa in February of 2022, depending on the pandemic and travel restrictions.

We continue to pray that peace is restored to Ethiopia. With faith and the support of our donors, we will continue building wells and providing the most basic of human needs to our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Susanne Wilson, Executive Director

For additional information on the conflict, read the articles below.

National Geographic

New York Times

If you have questions about this topic, please feel free to email susanne@watertothrive.org.