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April 2014


This Habitat for Humanity Ethiopia build was a sanitation project in Addis Ababa. The project involved building three toilets which would serve multiple families living in the slum area in the old town centre (Piazza) area, not far from the Itegue Taitu Hotel. Photos of Addis Ababa

Two of the toilets were four units and the third was two units. The catch pits had been dug prior to our arrival so we started by assembling the rebar and pouring the concrete pads then built concrete block walls. Build site one, two & three

The Team was made up of thirteen Canadians, mostly from the Ontario region. Three members were from Alberta and two from Halifax. Five of the team members had been on previous Habitat GV builds, for the rest this was their first time.


A few statistics provided by Habitat for Humanity, Ethiopia and Wikipedia:

  • The population of Ethiopia is 93 million
  • 39% of the population live below the poverty line
  • The population of Addis Ababa is 3 million and 55% of the population lives in slums
  • 90% of the urban housing is considered substandard with poor walls, floors and roofs.
  • Only 27% of the housing units in urban areas have direct access to piped water
  • 42% of urban housing units do not have any type of toilet
  • Sanitation is the most pressing need in the city, with most of the population lacking access to waste treatment facilities. This contributes to the spread of illness through unhealthy water.
  • In rural areas most poor families (75%) share their sleeping quarters with livestock, and 40% of children sleep on the floor
  • The average family size is six or seven, living in a 30-square-meter mud and thatch hut, with less than two hectares of land to cultivate

In addition to constructing decent and affordable housing for low income families, Habitat Ethiopia also provides:

  • Houses for vulnerable individuals and families (health & disability issues)
  • Helps to renovate existing housing in slum areas
  • Constructs water and sanitation facilities
  • Kitchen improvements – kitchen structures and cooking facilities
  • Provision of Mosquito nets

Following the first week of construction work we took a 130 km bus trip northeast of Addis to a highland village called Debre Birhan. Habitat Ethiopia has several on-going projects in Debre Birhan and we visited the largest which is an entire village made up of more than 600 Habitat homes. We participated in a ceremony in which new homes were selected for 16 families. Click on Debre Birhan for photos.

Following the build the team took a trip to Weliso and Wenchi Crater Lake. We travelled by highway to Ambo which is 125km west of Addis Ababa and then took a 27km dirt and gravel road to the village of Wenchi were we went on foot to the crater lake and a boat to the Monastery of Wench Chirkos. We then took another bumpy gravel road to Weliso where we stayed for two nights at the Negash Lodge. Check out The Wenchi Eco-Tourism Association (WETA) for more information.

After some rest and relaxation in Weliso we returned to Addis Ababa, had a final farewell dinner at the Hilton Hotel thanks to the efforts of a couple of the team members. The following day the team split up with most of the members returning to Canada. A few stayed on in Ethiopia and did some private touring.

During my stay in Ethiopia I saw only a small part of this amazing country. Check out the following links for some of what I saw:

Bahir Dar is on the southern end of Lake Tana which is the headwater of the Blue Nile and one of the local attractions is the Blue Nile Falls.

Gondar is a former capital of Ethiopia and was founded on the early 1600’s by the Emperor Fasilidas. In Gondar we visited Debre Birhan Selassie, a Church which is known for its many painted murals, the royal compound containing the ruins and several castles and the Baths of Fasilidas.

Lalibela is known for its rock-hewn churches. It was the capital of the Zagwe dynasty which ruled Ethiopia from the 10th to the 13th century. The churches were constructed in the 12th century during the reign of Emperor Lalibela.

St. Yimrhane Kirstos (Yemrehanna Kristos) -  We took a day trip from Lalibela to visit a 12th century church built inside a cave.

People -  Throughout my travels in Ethiopia I was surprised by the number of people who were willing or even wanted to have their photograph taken. These are just a few of the many photos I took of people of Ethiopia.

Transportation -  Like many third world countries, Ethiopia uses many forms of transportation that would never be seen in North America.

Rural EthiopiaIn my travels through Ethiopia I passed through hundreds of kilometers of country side and saw many villages and farms.  


For more information on Habitat for Humanity click on the following links:

Habitat Canada

Habitat Global Village

Habitat Ethiopia