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Collaboratory update August 2023 | Ethiopia

The latest news from our colleagues in Ethiopia

25 August 2023

Developing and maintaining collaborative, trusting relationships with our stakeholders is important. Water knows no bounds, and transformative action that leaves nobody behind must leave nobody out. Over the past few months our Ethiopia Collaboratory has been busy with a number of workshops and participatory events for a variety of our stakeholders. A consultative workshop on water allocation scenarios and water governance in the Central Rift Valley (CRV) offered an opportunity to explore issues of socio-ecological based water governance systems, upstream-downstream water governance, and conflict/cooperation scenarios. Additionally, during a water values workshop, attendees discussed governance systems, how public and private values are incorporated into decision-making, and risks and value conflicts in the Akaki catchment. 

The young people of today are the world leaders of tomorrow. The Hub is committed to making environmental and climate education accessible to all for a more sustainable future, and both our WLRC and IWMI teams have developed water and environmental clubs with local school students. At WLRC, researchers delivered miniSASS training workshops with school students, building their capacity to monitor the health of their local rivers, and developing their understanding of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems in keeping our planet safe. At IWMI, Hub members are raising awareness of water management and engineering, leading field trips to the Legedadi reservoir and water treatment facility to help develop future water managers. Both teams are planning to extend the environmental clubs to other schools and areas. 

Ethiopian colleagues are also helping to build capacity amongst hydroclimate researchers and climate information users by delivering a training workshop on the application of the Climate Data Tool (CDT), developed by the Hub team. Used for climate data exploration and analysis, the CDT and this training will help to fill gaps in knowledge, analysis, and utilisation of spatial or gridded climate data products in both research and practical application. The training covered climate data preparation and management both for station and gridded data formats, data quality control, gridding, validation, analysis, and visualisation. One participant said, “This training programme has opened our eyes to use and run gridded data products”. 

Learning from each other's work and experiences is crucial to the Hub’s model. Our research ethos is based on knowledge exchange, capacity building, and collaboration, key elements to tackling global water security issues. As part of ongoing collaborative work with the Malaysia team on links between water, flooding, and health, surveys have been carried out with communities to assess water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) related practices; perceptions towards climate change and air quality; and perceptions towards flood risks. The teams are carrying out a comparison of water security issues in the Johor and Akaki basins.

Our Ethiopia Collaboratory has also been working closely with our India team, who are leading the Hub’s work on a water sensitive planning (WSP) framework for cities in the global south. Colleagues in Ethiopia are currently adapting the approach ready for a pilot at a selected site in Addis Ababa and recently hosted Prof Ashok Kumar from our SPA team in India. During his visit they have worked together to progress the pilot, with Prof Ashok assisting in defining the site and the identification of potential planning and development challenges. Prof Ashok joined Ethiopian colleagues in delivering stakeholder workshops and training on WSP, including presenting case studies of water sensitive layout planning the team has carried out in India. Over four days, the team introduced participants to the principles and practical applications of WSP, historical perspectives, and benchmarking findings, and communities provided their input on water and land management practices. Valuable data on water resources, supply, sanitation, green spaces, and socioeconomic factors, and the opportunities and challenges around WSP implementation were collected during field assessments. Colleagues from both Ethiopia and India are now working to finalise the Water Sensitive Layout Plan for the selected pilot area in the Melkashene Watershed in Addis Ababa, incorporating the collaborative input from this event. 

As well as delivering events, the Ethiopia Collaboratory has made great progress with field work. Our water quality team have visited urban farmlands in and around Addis Ababa, investigating the impacts of contaminated river water on urban/peri-urban agriculture produce, and assessing health implications of food chain contamination. Their next plans are to collect water samples during the dry seasons to assess its suitability for irrigation. They have also collected fish samples to assess heavy metal contamination in fish during the dry season. Carbs, catfish and tilapia samples were collected from the Koka and Aba Samuel reservoirs, assessed using ICP-OES, Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectroscopy (an analytical technique used to determine how much of certain elements are in a sample), and compared against samples from other seasons. Additionally, the team is exploring management practices, awareness, and health problems associated with pesticide exposure and pollution in urban/peri-urban agriculture. 

Dr Hailay Zeray Tedla with his examiners and supervisor

Congratulations to Dr Hailay Zeray Tedla on successfully defending his PhD dissertation, titled ‘Citizen Science for Validating Rainfall Forecast and Enhancing Community Based Flood Early Warning’. With the support of the Hub, Dr Hailay, in collaboration with Dr Alemseged Tamiru, established a citizen science programme with an extensive network of rain gauges in the Akaki catchment within Addis Ababa. His research explored the factors that affect the quality of citizen science data and developed a method to assess the precision of rainfall data. Hailay also developed a threshold-based flood early warning approach to assist the community-based flood early warning system in the Akaki catchment. 

Finally, congratulations to our WLRC team, who were selected by judges for having the best achievements and participation at the annual Research and Fairs Week at Addis Ababa University.

Check out this blog post from the team, on monitoring the microbial quality of water in the Akaki river that runs through Addis Ababa in order to understand and target pollution sources.

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