In search for an answer to the question ‘What is a blog?’ in Ethiopia


How old fashioned can one be? I was asked by Akvo to write a blog on my visit to Ethiopia the last 2 weeks, and did not dare to ask what exactly is a blog. I just said I would do it, maybe I could find out in Ethiopia what a blog is? I had a vague idea that it was some piece of text put in a website, but what type of text? Certainly not a report, that is something by old people from long ago. It had to be something quick and dirty, something from the next generation, maybe even something with fast moving pictures, incomprehensible abbreviations, rude words and weird smileys?

The guesthouse in Addis Abeba where I stayed the first days did not give me a clue. All people (mainly Scandinavians and Germans) staying there (except for me) seemed to just have adopted Ethiopian babies, and were (understandably so), too busy to help me out.

All the Ethiopian WASH Alliance members in Addis Abeba, to whom I paid a visit to introduce myself as the new country lead for Ethiopia seemed to be too busy as well, either with getting contracts for the year that started long ago, with doing assessments on youth groups busy growing papayas and tomatoes using waste water, or some constructing water taps for settling pastoralists (herdsmen).

In Afar, where I visited the AMREF programme and the local authorities, my question on blogs was blown away with the dusty sand storms or tramped by the camel herds, in 45 degrees. The pastoralists themselves were too busy settling around the newly constructed water supply schemes, and did not understand my beginners Amharigna as they appeared to speak Afarigna.

Gathering water at the hand dug well

When I arrived in Dire Dawa (the town where WASTE supports the WASH programme), the people involved in one way or the other with wash, seemed not always to agree on each others mandates, or not being aware what the other did. RIPPLE mapped the entire sanitation and waste chains in Dire Dawa. The landfill on the picture below is an example of where sanitation (sludge) and waste come together. Happily so, our partner RIPPLE now unites the various stakeholders in a Learning and Practice Alliance in order to improve the functioning of the chains.

Dire Dawa landfill fresh sludge

The country coordinator was (like me) too struck by the message that the former country lead was now even leaving AMREF, to help me further.

So my question remains, what is a blog?

Niels Lenderink (WASTE), WASH Country Lead for Ethiopia