The Awash River, Ethiopia

Authors: Endaweke Assegide, Tena Alamirew, Yihun T. Dile, Haimanote Bayabil, Bezaye Tessema, and Gete Zeleke

Developing countries like Ethiopia are grappling with rapid population growth, urbanisation, agricultural intensification, and climate change, all putting intense pressure on the availability and quality of water resources. The Awash River and its tributaries are used for domestic, irrigation, industrial, and recreational purposes. Fertiliser and pesticide use in the river catchment has increased significantly, and dissolved phosphorous is above threshold measurements, making the Awash one of the most affected by intensified irrigation schemes, and industrial and urban pollution. Worryingly, it scores poorly for drinking and irrigation water quality.

In this article the authors review multiple studies on surface water quality. Many of them are inconclusive for a number of reasons, for example, no comprehensive surface water quality research, lack of detailed combined spatial and temporal data, and lack of analysis into the overall picture of the basin. Despite the existence of policy and legal tools, enforcement is lacking. Improving the ecological health of rivers necessitates policy revision, as well as increased knowledge and engagement among implementers.

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