HydroXpert / Initiative to a multi-stakeholder actions programme for water in Ethiopia

Initiative to a multi-stakeholder actions programme for water in Ethiopia

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1. Background

Water security, i.e. water availability for agriculture and domestic uses with adequate quality standards, has received greater attention due to the rise in concern about the state of freshwater resources, changing hydrological cycles, and their impacts on human security.   According to UN World Water Report of 2015, there will be about 40% of rainfall shortfall by 2030, about 55% increase in demand for water by 2050, and 60% increase in demand for food by 2050, and a rise of industrial water demand by about 400%.  This situation leads to inter-sectoral water use competition and challenges planners and decision makers in addressing water security issues.

According to the Global Risk 2015 Report of the World Economic forum, water crisis is the number one global risk with massive and devastating impacts to the society and the case in Ethiopia requires particular attention due to the fact that the population is expected to double to over 200 million by 2050. Currently, domestic water consumption per capita in Ethiopia is one of the least in the world, which is estimated to be about 15 liters per capita per day. As the population continues to grow, compounded with increasing demand for water as a result of improved life style, the demand for clean water will continue to rise.   Water shortages, poor sanitation, and a lack of access to clean water are causes of water borne diseases such as Malaria, Cholera, Shigellosis, Hepatitis A, Dengue fever, Leptospirosis, Typhoid Fever. Water borne diseases are linked to the major causes of about 300000 infant mortalities per year in Ethiopia. According to a study conducted by Water.org, about “42% of the population has access to a clean water supply” and only “11% of that number has access to adequate sanitation services”. Rural areas have very limited accesses to both services.

In addition, agriculture, as the main economic sector of the country employing 85% of Ethiopian population, is widely practiced with rain fed agriculture.  Obviously, during drought season, crops fail due to lack of adequate quantity of water.  Only about 2.4% of the total arable land of 5.3 million hectares has irrigation coverage and storage systems are still very limited with about 50 m3 capacity per capita compared to about 6000 m3 per capita in the USA.  Ethiopia has been hit by recurrent droughts that have, at times, led to food shortage in some parts of the country.  Climate change and variability significantly affects water availability as a result of changes in rainfall pattern and distribution.

Thus, water for health such as through WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) programmes and for food security through increased agriculture and crop production are key areas to address in order to fight public health and to overcome food security crisis using innovative technologies and practices that are cost effective and simple to raise community awareness, in addition to financing and developing water facilities and infrastructures.


2. Objective

The main objective of this initiative is to create a community driven programme to empower the water sector development activities by mobilising global knowledge and expertise for creative ideas and actions to improve water and sanitation, and water for food security.  Recognising the risks associated to climate changes, establishing a framework for collective reflections and a programme for multi-stakeholder actions to substantially limite water related disasters and to promote use of water with adequate quality and quantity for human well-being and for economic developments.

The initiative focuses on community mobilisation and inter-institutional collaborations towards multi-stakeholder actions. It is an independent and neutral project programme initaitve intended to participate anyone who has the stake or the desire to share his/her knowledge, experience or the lessons learnt from their respective host countries, regions.

2.1 Value creativity and enhance national capacity: A programme that values creative ideas and concepts from everyone who has a stake and or interest in the water development sector in particular and in the social and economic developments in general

2.2 Multi-stakeholders interlink and actions: A programme that creates an interlink between different disciplines and facilitates multi-stakeholder discussions and actions based on shared values and responsibilities

2.3 Participative: A programme in which everyone feels heard and ready to bring his/her good wills, knowledge and experience acquired. Involve professionals and knowledge group residing within and outside of Ethiopia


3. Thematic areas

3.1 Water & Health: water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH)

3.2 Water & Food: water for agriculture, for industrial processes


4. Key focus areas 

This initiative foresees the formation of three focus areas in order to measure its contributions to a sustainable water use and managements with the ultimate goal to improve human health and to add organic growth to the country’s economy :

4.1 Technology: disrupting inefficient practices and create and:or adopt the ones with best performance

4.2 Policy: highlighting appropriate policy frameworks that are conductive to innovations and community participations

4.3 Community: awareness, practices


5. Key stakeholders 

Water, health, and agricultural ministries, institutions and organisations; beverage and food processing industries; public health facilities; technology sectors; policy makers and planners; academic and research institutions; financial institutions and multinational donors who have direct or indirect role and responsibilities to improve public health and to address challenges of food crisis.


6. Financial needs

This initiative foresees financial needs for functional executions of this initiative and further development of the programme as well as for funding competitive projects initiated by NGOs and institutions raising collaborative projects.  Fund raising sessions will be initiated after the launch of this initiative for defined actions requirements.  


7. What is next

This initiative is expected to pass through three main stages as briefly described below:

      1st Stage:

  • June – October 2017: reach and invite academics and professionals, organisations and various stakeholders to be part of this initiative; collect and analyse potential feedbacks and make improvements
  • November – December 2017: formation of project team, advisory and support group.
  • January 2018: Official launch of the initiative, launch of a website specific to this initiative

     2nd Stage:

  • January 2018 – ; After the official launch of the initiative, project will be drafted in close cooperation with participating members. Further activities and planning will be determined at the start of the 2nd Stage

     3rd Stage:

  • Programme enter into operation. Starting calendar to be determined during the planning stage in the 2nd Stage


8. Registration

Registering to participate in this initiative is free.  As ideas and expertise come from different angles, people from different educational background and expertise are encouraged to participate.  Particularly, people from science & engineering, finance & accounting, legal & administration, public health, IT and obviously from water & sanitation are highly encouraged to participate.

There are different levels of participation, which you can select one or more as you fill in a quick registration form here. You can also leave your comments and/or suggestions, any questions you may have.

Note: Even though other uses of water require the merit to be addressed, as I highlight in my presentation here, I believe that the domestic, agriculture, and industry water needs are the ones which result in devastating effects to the society if not given prior attention

 Allelign Zeru (PhD)

May 14 2017

Allelign Zeru (PhD) has over 15 years of professional experience on a variety of water and environmental projects located in more than 12 countries.  He led, coordinated, supervised technical studies and projects in relation to multi-sectoral  water uses and allocation; water & green growth (clean/develop water for economic growth, social services,  and environmental protection); water & energy such as hydropower & energy recovery; climate change adaptation & storage systems; groundwater and surface water management; water policy, environmental laws and regulations.  He delivered training courses in water resources and hydrology; designed and developed decision tools for water resources management; coordinated multi-stakeholder consultations and collaborations.  He has working experience in government, iNGO, industry, scientific & research institutions.

He earned his PhD degree (2004) in Fluid Mechanics from the University of Strasbourg in France; MSc degree (1998) in Resources Engineering (water and land resources) from the University of Karlsruhe, now Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany; and a BSc degree in Agricultural Engineering from Alemaya Universiy of Agriculture in Ethiopia.