UPGro Impact: responding to declining groundwater levels in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia [D5]

Addis Ababa relies on groundwater for more than 60% of its water supply. Water levels are declining significantly. Declining water levels is affecting access to water for some users. Rapid water level decline has led to some shallow community boreholes equipped with handpumps to fail. Old wells fields (e.g. The Old Akaki wellfield) tapping the shallow volcanic aquifers are now almost abandoned because of decline in water table.

This has affected some domestic water needs locally and in the city. Declining artesian heads have resulted in lower natural flow and deeper pumps to be installed.

This status of groundwater levels in Addis Ababa was not a core focus of the two UPGro consortium studies in Ethiopia. Instead, it emerged from the broader set of monitoring and stakeholder engagement, where UPGro researchers responded to requests for data and advice.

UPGro (Hidden Crisis) secured permission to install groundwater level loggers within monitoring wells drilled by the Ministry of Water Irrigation and Energy.

Two years of monitoring data are showing a general decline in groundwater levels, which is rapid in some areas. Industrial users are drilling deeper where they can (> 500 m) to secure supply.

In response to this new evidence, along with other challenges and opportunities, the government began drafting a new Groundwater Policy to enable corrective management and regulation actions to be put in place.

Further Information
  1. MacDonald A. et al (2019) Groundwater and resilience to drought in the Ethiopian Highlands, Env. Res. Letters
  2. Berehanu et al. (2017) Inter-Basin Groundwater Transfer and Multiple Approach Recharge Estimation of the Upper Awash Aquifer System. J. of Geoscience and Environment Protection,
  3. Berehanu, et al. (2017) Challenges of Groundwater Flow Model Calibration Using MODFLOW in Ethiopia: With Particular Emphasis to the Upper Awash River Basin. J. of Geoscience and Environment Protection
  4. Kebede, et al.. 2017 UPGro Hidden Crisis Research Consortium : unravelling past failures for future success in Rural Water Supply. Survey 1 Results, Country Report Ethiopia., British Geological Survey report
  5. Foster S. et al (2017): Urban Groundwater Dependency in Tropical Africa – a scoping study of pro-poor implications
  6.  Seifu Kebede, Katrina Charles, Samuel Godfrey, Alan MacDonald & Richard Taylor (2021) Regional-scale interactions between groundwater and surface water under changing aridity: evidence from the River Awash Basin, EthiopiaHydrological Sciences Journal, DOI: 10.1080/02626667.2021.1874613


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