Djibouti is located just south of Ethiopia and west of Somalia in Africa. Djibouti will be the 2nd country GAC will be working in. Here we are focusing on water and education which are two of the greatest needs in Africa. There is an American military base located here, as this is a central location in the fight against piracy in the Red Sea and fight against terrorism with it’s proximity to Yemen. The population is made up of two different ethnic groups the Issa and the Afar. The government is also a balance of these two groups with the President from the Issa tribe and the Prime Minister from the Afar tribe. One of the challenges in working here is to be balanced in helping the people from both groups. One of our assets is we have made strong connections to both the President and the Prime Minister. While I was visiting the country I had amazing support that was essential for my ability to assess the needs and for making partnerships to achieve our future goals. The cooperation we found from the Army, Coast Guard, the Ministry of Agriculture and all the community leaders was very helpful and gave me a taste of what to expect in the future.
OUR WATER PROJECTS IN DJIBOUTI
In Djibouti it rains once or twice a year. Much of the land is a harsh desert environment and many of the people are nomads. The nomads will travel from one water location to the next, many of which are supplied by water trucks. In some areas hand dug wells supply water for drinking and small scale agriculture plots. Some of these wells have become almost unusable because of salt water intrusion. Here a well can support many families and the small farms that employed several more workers. These cooperative wells are an important component for survival. We found in just a few days of visits many sites for either converting wells to solar power and in some cases the possibility of taking unusable wells back into production with solar powered desalination units. Our above ground pumps will also purify the water and have the ability to pump 700 to 1,000 gallons a day. In other areas we have made an agreement to work with the Ministry of Agriculture to supply underground pumps in areas where they need to drill new wells.
OUR EDUCATION PROJECTS IN DJIBOUTI
Outside of the capital Djibouti City is a dry plateau with a constant wind. Temperatures plummet at night and when I met with the teachers at many of the schools one of the first requests for the students was sweaters for keeping them warm. I could distribute 5,000 sweaters easily. The 2nd big request was for school buildings. Many of the schools needed additional buildings for multi use. The temperatures range from 70 degrees during the winter to 120 degrees in the summer. A new building would provide indoor space for cooking the food given to them from the World Food Bank Program, a place for the students to rest or additional classroom. Our first area to work is one of the direst of situations and this was at Karabtisan. This area above the salt lake in the middle of the country is where people live on their land in one of the most inhospitable regions. The wind is always blowing and sometimes sandstorms roar through their village. Of the 4000 people living here almost 1,000 are children. They had two tents given to them 2 years ago for school rooms, one was blown away and one is in tatters. If we can buy the building supplies in Djibouti, I have a commitment from the Djibouti Army to transport them up there. Once there the local people will build the school rooms for free. Finally every child who attends school will be fed by the World Food Program. This is our chance to be a catalyst for change in a large way.