After two delays, my flight took off for Gode. We made stops Diredawa, and Jijiga where several passengers boarded or disembarked. Finally Gode! Seated near the front of the plane, I was one of the first passengers to disembark. Wow!, where was I?
Gode is one of the rural parts of southern Ethiopia that is close to the Somali border; so are Diredawa and Jijiga. The people in these parts are Somali; speak Somali and are mostly Muslim, so the culture is somewhat different from Addis where Amharic is the predominant language spoken. There are several restrictions in place including taking pictures of the airport and the town. As a matter of fact, I had to wear a head scarf whenever we went into town. I took a few pictures once on off the plane but had to immediately put my camera away once I approached the airport building.
We were in Gode for five days of assessment of the Gu rains that caused a combination of flood and drought to this region. The project for Gode has been extended so it was important for us to know what else was necessary to complete it by October.
I was responsible for providing a checklist for the water and sanitation piece and collecting some of the data for other components. All of this information would be included in the final assessment tool. Included with water and sanitation were areas of community and livelihoods, health, education, livestock, agriculture, and market.
This was when I had to sit and listen because translations of what I had compiled had to be presented by a Somali-speaking team member. What was written, though clear, I thought, the team’s interpretations were different. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that writing for people who are English speakers can translate in the same manner to speakers of another language if we used the simplest explanations. Some of what I learned many years ago, while training as a literacy instructor kicked in just in time.
I must say that my checklist was very well received. The technical manager was available to explain the water points portion to our WASH team.
The hard part is ahead.