Ethiopia: Monitoring water quality for sustainable water management

The Awash basin is the most widely used river basin in Ethiopia with a number of small, medium and large irrigation schemes & # 39; s; urban and rural water supply plans and industries along the river.

The Basin is a center for the development of industrial, agricultural and other economic activities. The relatively good infrastructure and the proximity of larger cities make Awash Basin River very valuable for investments.

These activities, in turn, have contributed greatly to the increase in population, expansion of urbanization, industrialization and agricultural mechanization which increases pollution from municipal, industrial and agricultural sources and exerts considerable pressure on the water quality of the catchment.

It is clear that the quality of water resources is vulnerable to a wide range of chemical compounds, including organic pollutants that are caused by natural and anthropogenic (due to the activities of human beings) causes.

The discharges of domestic, industrial and agricultural waste, apart from the polluting water body, can endanger their socio-economic and ecological values. Some pollutants can even expose people and other lives to serious health threats.

With these concerns and to identify the water quality of Awash Basin River, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), in collaboration with the Indian Center for Science and Environment, has developed a water control system.

Recently a forum was held here in Addis Abeba that discussed the same problem.

On this occasion, Acting State Secretary of MoEFCC Wordi Hashim said that while Africa has large fresh water supplies, water management remains a serious problem.

Increased population, rapid industrialization and unscheduled urban development result in large quantities of waste being generated and discharged into the water bodies and posing a risk to the quality of the fresh water of the continent. At the global level, freshwater sources are not yet scarce. However, according to him, their uneven distribution on different scales creates multiple sources of power.

The director of the Environmental Pollution Controlling of the ministry, Mulubirhan Tariku, said for many years that there had been no monitoring and regulating mechanism for the removal of solids and sludge. As a result, the tributaries that flow into the Awash River and shallow groundwater plans are very polluted.

"The solid industrial waste materials are transported to municipal landfills or burned in the open air. The liquid industrial waste is released to the river, to its tributaries. In addition to the pollution of the surface water, these pollutants seep into the subsurface and thus pose a threat. to the groundwater, "

Some parts of the basin are characterized by large, medium and small agricultural activities. Such activities are highly dependent on the use of agricultural inputs. Fertilizers that are applied to the agricultural land and pesticides that are sprayed on the plants are eventually washed away to rivers and streams and organic and inorganic materials are added to the water.

Indian Center for Science and Environment, Deputy Director Chandra Bhushan also said that the center emphasizes monitoring of the basin, because monitoring is a preparatory phase to improve water quality. The planned control system is smart and is supported by sensory technology that makes it possible to control and manage the water of the basin.

"One of the problems in Africa is the lack of data on environmental quality indicators, so it is quite a challenge to design a plan to improve water quality and the Center will timely inform on the level and quality of the water. in the basin at different times in a more smart and affordable way, "he said.

Shiferaw Demissie General manager of the Awash Basin Authority said that Awash Basin is a huge basin and that ten percent of the country's population lives around it, using the water of the river for various economic activities.

He noted that, by gaining experience and support from India, the Authority intends to use the water of the basin in an appropriate way by introducing the integrated approach to water management that requires the input of different stakeholders. .

"The monitoring network that will be established could show the status of the water in a certain period of time, and it is learned that there are always floods and water scarcity during the rainy season in the dry season to help us address these seasonal issues," added he's ready.

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