Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Bringing water containment reservoirs everywhere

Legend has it that Addis Ababa is synonymous with both cold and hot spring water. The hot water is commonly called Filwoha. Today there is a worrisome echo of this legend.   People across the city are now crying for water. As for the Filwoha, so far so good even with the completed expansion project in an area close to the national palace.
History has documented that Addis Ababa was first chosen as a capital city 125 years ago for having hot spring water in abundance. Emperor Menelik and Empress Taitu, the founders of Addis Ababa, along with the then elite group were delighted to have hot spring water for washing their body. That was also seen as a medicine, hot water therapy.
As for the potable water that began 125 years ago in Addis Ababa the scarcity now is overwhelming. The Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority (AAWSA), promised to satisfy the needs of the people when the Akaki deep well project is completed. Days after the 500 million cubic meters deep water well project was inaugurated with the capacity of producing 73 thousand meters cube per day, the scarcity went from bad to worse. The problem was exacerbated due to the damage of the major pipe line stretching from Legedadi reservoir to the centre. 
There are some areas that get water three days a week only. In another area people may get water once a week. The lucky ones get it in the evening. The rare exceptions are those who get 24 hours of potable water.   
In a recent interview with AAWSA officials, Capital learnt that AAWSA provides 301 thousand cubic meters of water per day for the people of Addis Ababa. AAWSA says that covers about 73 percent of the city’s demand. AAWSA says it will satisfy 100 percent of the water need of the people shortly. 
If the past is any guide promises aren’t going well. Promises to reduce rampant inflation, providing uninterrupted electric power and water, a smooth supply of bread and sugar have all stopped half way. Few forget the famous saying; candles will only be needed for birthday parties. But we use candles to avoid darkness at least twice a week currently.  
How long will this chronic problem continue? Golden Trade Company that has been working in Ethiopia for the last eight years suggests an alternative. In a recent interview Capital conducted with Michael Mathieson, Partner and International Operation Head, “one serious problem in Addis Ababa is that we are wasting the water we have.”
“There is no need to have one big reservoir and stretch a long pipe across the city. We are now looking to use our expertise and technology to create a water containment reservoir everywhere, in villages, and sub and large cities. The water containment reservoir can be used for drinking water as well as agricultural water,” he said. This avoids water wastage and pollution.
In my opinion, he argued, big reservoirs miles away from the city is not a solution. The solution is to have small internal reservoirs close to the consumers’ areas. In his view when the reservoir is miles away piping and delivery systems become very complicated. “We have the technology and products to make small potable water reservoirs around the city very close to the consumers. In any area of land, one or two hectares, 4,000 to 8,000 meters square and three to five meters deep can easily hold enough water for the community. We have the technology to cover this reservoir to eliminate evaporation completely,” he remarked.
“As a resident of Addis I observe human waste and animal waste on the land of Addis in very many places. Pollution enters through the pipes leakage and reaches to the society. That is why epidemics appear time and again,” he added.
Capital learnt that Golden Trade arrived in Ethiopia in 2004 looking to work in the Water sector. The company came to Ethiopia by coincidence.
“In fact we were working in the water sector in Egypt building canals. At that time we met the Ethiopian Minister of Water Shiferaw Jarso who had been in Cairo to look at the water canal system. He then invited us to come to Ethiopia. Following our arrival we gave a lot of presentations to the Ministry of Water. This resulted in a joint venture agreement to establish a factory to produce water related infrastructure products such as pipes, and a ground sink system,” he said.
In the last seven years the company has six factories in Ethiopia all related to water infrastructure products including: Geo-membrane, PVC piping, PE piping, Drill casing, Steel pipe, Household piping systems. Five factories are in Addis Ababa and one is in Bahir Dar. Now they all produce these products and they use them for agricultural applications.
Will this help overcome the severe water problem Addis is currently facing? There is no easy answer for a problem that existed for years. But the professionals have to assess if this idea serves as part of the solution.