Seabees Help Bring Water to Drought-stricken Ethiopia
Members of the water well drilling unit of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7 from Gulfport, Miss., are making a difference in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia by drilling wells that will produce clean drinking water for residents, as well as water for crops and livestock.
The Seabees have been in the remote region since February drilling into known aquifers from which to draw the water. Their goal is to drill as many wells as possible and provide as much water as possible.
“For the most part, the people of the region depended on rainfall for their water,” says Chief Utilitiesman (SCW) Bill Yobs. “However, the people of this region have been victims of a 10-year drought, so they have depended on dirty watering holes they have to share with animals.”
Local attempts to reach significant water reserves, reaching 200 feet to 500 feet below the ground, had been unsuccessful.
“The many attempts to increase the amount of water produced here in the Ogaden region have failed simply because the people don't have the equipment to do the job,” says Ensign Max Jones, the unit's officer in charge. “We have deployed to this area to drill water-producing wells and share our expertise with the people.”
The 19 Seabees working the projects already have struck water, with one well completed and a second being finished.
“I couldn't ask for a better crew,” Yobs says. “Everyone on the team is motivated to do the job and do it right. And we couldn't do what we're doing out here without the help of the Marines, the Soldiers from Bravo Company of the Guam National Guard, and the Army's Alpha Company out of Kansas who provide force protection.”