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Groundwater is Running Low in Addis Ababa, Meeting Only 40% of Supply Demand, Study Shows

© AFP 2023 EDUARDO SOTERASMen extract water from a well at the village of El Gel, 8 kilometers from the town of K'elafo, Ethiopia, on January 12, 2023.
Men extract water from a well at the village of El Gel, 8 kilometers from the town of K'elafo, Ethiopia, on January 12, 2023.  - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 01.04.2024
Over the past two decades, Ethiopia has achieved significant advancements in the areas of water and sanitation. However, a mere 49.6% of the population have access to basic water supply coverage, and only 8.9% have access to basic sanitation coverage, which causes spread of communicable diseases, according to the UN.
According to a new research released this week, Addis Ababa can no longer drill for groundwater because the wells in the city are drying up. The authors of the research also warned that if groundwater pumping continues unchecked and unregulated, the country's water supply could dry up, the local media reported.
The researchers Fekadu Moreda and Tirusew Assefa spread the cautionary message at a UN climate resilient infrastructure conference, warning that the current freshwater demand in Addis Ababa is 1.2 million cubic meters per day, whereas the supply only meets 40% of this need, the report said.
The study reportedly cautioned that the city's widespread water storage tanks and excessive groundwater pumping are impeding efforts to guarantee water quality and maintain adequate residual levels.

“The water tanks are a symptom of what is going on,” Fekadu Moreda said, as cited by the media.

The Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority has been implementing water rationing for the past six years because of the abovementioned issues. According to the data provided by the authority, just seven woredas (Ethiopian districts) have access to a consistent water supply every day of the week, according to media reports.
The research reportedly confirmed the statistics, and recent surveys indicated that the majority of the capital's woredas gets water only twice a week, while other woredas experience periods of more than a week without water.
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Furthermore, Tirusew Assefa warned that such an uncoordinated and unregulated water use could lead to lakes and springs starting to dry up, as it has happened before in US city of Tampa in Florida.
His solution to the problem lies in diversifying into surface water and building reservoirs to retain excess rainfall, according to the media outlet.
The experts also urged local officials to adopt legislation to curb unregulated drilling and pumping before it's too late, the report said. The paper recommended creating a water supply assessment and allocation agency that would also determine water supply roles, adding that legislation is needed to determine water supply and infrastructure finances.
Perhaps another solution to the water problem could be to import water from neighboring Somalia, especially since Somali water already flows through Ethiopia to another neighbor, Djibouti.
Moreover, in January, Ethiopia announced plans to increase the daily supply of safe drinking water to Djibouti from 20,000 cubic meters to 100,000 cubic meters, as reported by the state media, citing the country's Ministry of Water and Energy, Habtamu Itefa.