DENVER HELPS ETHIOPIAN SISTER CITY SAVE LIVES BY IMPROVING WATER AND SANITATION Project making headway through fundraising on innovative site,

December 22, 2005 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News

Denver, Colo. – Some holiday gifts can’t fit under a tree, but are right in step with the holiday spirit. Clean water and better sanitation are one gift volunteers in Denver want to deliver to their sister city Axum in Ethiopia next year – and they’re raising funds online to make their goodwill gift a reality.

As the rumored resting place of the Biblical Ark of the Covenant, Axum is a major tourist destination. However, a shortage of potable drinking water and lack of a proper sewer system deters visitors and jeopardizes the lives of Axum’s 40,000 residents. Denver-Axum Sister Cities wants to support the Ethiopian government with expertise in its efforts to improve the water and sanitation system of Axum. Their first step is raising $35,000 in donations online at

None of the water in Axum's reservoir, its private supplies, or public wells is safe to drink. In fact, the community’s preferred water source, the reservoir, is the most highly polluted. But, with the low-cost and sustainable water treatment techniques proposed by Denver, the sister city’s supply of clean water can more than double from the current supply.

Organizers say the project will improve the quality of life for the community and potentially save many young lives, noting that children under the age of five are especially susceptible to illnesses and that poor water quality contributes to infant mortality. Project leader and environmental protection specialist Tsegaye Hailu said, “The completion of the water project will save the lives of many infants and lay the foundation for a much healthier community.”

In addition to cleaning up the water, Denver-Axum Sister Cities want to purchase a new or used septic truck to service the pit latrines in the city. Only 2% of Axum’s residents have flush toilets, while 42% use the pit latrines and more than half use open fields. Adding to the sanitation problem, pit latrines are often located near water wells, which contaminate the population’s water.

Hailu said, “Axum’s rich history of over 3,000 years, its magnificent stone works, and its reputation as the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant continue to fascinate visitors from all over the world. Yet, if the city’s poor sanitation infrastructure does not improve, it will severely limit its tourism appeal, which has a significant role in Ethiopia’s economy.”

Donations of any size over $10 are appreciated. Donors can give to the Clean Water for Axum project and Improve Health in Axum thru Sanitation project online at, a new fundraising website that allows individuals and corporations to target their money to specific projects and track how their money is spent. Developed specifically for the sister cities network, this innovative website helps connect people with real projects and communities, engaging citizens of both communities in changing their world.

As an interactive website, allows donors to learn more about the projects and ask questions directly to project contacts. It also lets donors read progress reports as the project gets underway. They can easily notify friends and colleagues about the project or make a donation with a few clicks of a mouse. is powered by Global Giving and administered by Sister Cities International’s Network for Sustainable Development. For more information visit or e-mail You can also visit Denver Sister Cities International’s website at

Representing more than 2,400 communities in 132 countries, Sister Cities International is a citizen diplomacy network creating and strengthening partnerships between the U.S. and communities abroad. Begun in 1956 after a White House summit where U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower called for people-to-people exchanges, sister city partnerships are tailored to local interests and increase global cooperation at the grassroots level. Sister Cities International promotes peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation by focusing on sustainable development, youth and education, arts and culture, humanitarian assistance and economic growth programs.