Climate change is a growing threat to countries in the Horn of Africa (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia). More frequent droughts threaten food security, biodiversity and, inevitably, the water system. Every year, less rain is falling, acting as a push factor for migration, and, according to Murali Pai [pdf], many people own guns and will use them in order to settle water scores.
Addis Ababa is vulnerable to all these threats, and its growing population (increasing at 4.4% per year; also see figure) is worsening scarcity.
Addis Ababa has struggled to secure a regular supply of clean water for over 11 years. The locals mainly get their water from dams and reservoirs – the most common source being the Gefersa Dam, which can supply 30,000m3 of water per day. Total surface water supplies meet 87% of demand, with the other 13% comes from groundwater. The average citizen has access to 35 litres per day after accounting for 35% water losses. This is not a lot if we think about all the water an average European might use per day (drinking, cooking, washing, etc.) Overall, a growing population means more people will need access to potable water, most likely reducing the amount of water an average citizen currently receives per day. Lower water losses could reduce scarcity.
On that note, it might be useful to look at initiatives that address these issues in Addis Ababa. We can all agree that regulation is an important process that can ensure fair water distribution. However, Addis Ababa, being the capital of a poorer country, seems to lack a distinct water regulation system. A dissertation suggests that missing regulation explains why public tap users pay more than users with taps in their homes. It is also states that the water is regulated by a person assigned by the Kebele administration in the city (i.e. the lowest administrative unit in an urban centre). Overall, a lack of a clear water regulation contributes to the water scarcity issues, as not everyone has equal access to clean water.
There is however a distinct water service provider: the Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority (AAWSA). This authority aims to provide potable water to the city and to regulate the sewerage system for a sanitary disposal of sewage. They also keep track of information such as the number of households that need water and tariffs of water. If there’s going to be a regulated standard for drinking water in Addis, then AAWSA would be a good place to start.
Bottom Line: Addis Ababa’s vulnerability to climate change and its growing population are not helping the search of solutions for solving the city’s water scarcity issues. Furthermore, the lack of a clear regulation system does not facilitate the problem either. New systems need to be researched and introduced to ensure correct water distribution and use and to reduce water losses as much as possible – the city cannot afford these in this day and age.
* Please help my Water Scarcity students by commenting on unclear analysis, alternative perspectives, better data sources, or maybe just saying something nice 🙂