Building adaptive water resources management in Ethiopia

Research reports and studies
May 2015
Beatrice Mosello, Roger Calow, Josephine Tucker, Helen Parker, Tena Alamirew, Seifu Kebede, Tesfay Alemseged, Assefa Gudina

This report presents the results of a diagnostic study of the water sector in Ethiopia, conducted by ODI in partnership with the Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy (MoWIE), the Ethiopian Institute of Water Resources (EIWR), Addis Ababa University (AAU), and the Water and Land Resource Centre (WLRC) between December 2013 and January 2015. The authors make recommendations for the MoWIE and other stakeholders to strengthen the institutional framework for water resources management (WRM) to ensure that infrastructure development is 'climate smart' and delivers broad-based economic and social benefits to Ethiopians.

The report presents an overview of the pressures and opportunities of water resources in Ethiopia, focusing on both climatic and socioeconomic drivers of change and their impacts on water resources availability and demand. The authors describe the regulatory and institutional framework for managing water resources in Ethiopia and identifies some of the problems emerging in the absence of clearly defined ‘rules of the game’. 

This study finds inadequate investments in water resources management in Ethiopia, despite the increasing pressures that a thriving economy, growing population and changing climate are placing on its water resources. Improving a country’s WRM to make it efficient, sustainable and equitable is a long-term mission. The authors suggest ‘starting small and staying focused’ by identifying tangible problems and looking for opportunities to solve them, ensuring coordination between all relevant actors in the water and water-related sectors.

The methodology developed here can also be replicated by other researchers and analysts to understand bottlenecks and strengths of WRM systems in other countries and at different governance levels.