A view from the riverbank of the Omo River as it flows round a bend, surrounded on either side by lush green shrubs and trees. The river water is red from mud and sediment.
A view from the riverbank of the Omo River as it flows round a bend, surrounded on either side by lush green shrubs and trees. The river water is red from mud and sediment.

The Omo River

Authors: Alemseged Tamiru Haile, Wegayehu Asfaw, Tom Rientjes, and Adimasu Woldesenbet Worako


Poor availability and accuracy of streamflow datasets across Africa constrains research and operational hydrology. In this study the authors evaluated the current state of streamflow monitoring in the Omo-Gibe Basin in Ethiopia. A three-week field inspection of 40 streamflow stations, including operation of the instruments, was carried out. Site inspections were carried out using common WMO guidelines for appropriate gauging sites, alongside collection of observer feedback and analysis of data quality.

Only 17% of the streamflow stations were fully operational, with the remaining requiring major maintenance – most stations are installed at river headwater catchments. Common problems with the time series data include short observation periods, large numbers of missing records, and inhomogeneity. Nearly all observers expressed dissatisfaction due to lack of supervision, uncertain salary payments, and lack of recognition of their contribution. The findings of this study indicate the need to investigate the institutional barriers that affect the homogeneity, completeness, and timeliness of the stream data.

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