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We are used to not having water for a day or even a couple of days in our houses; it is common and has been happening for a really long time. Though a couple of days are nothing, Addis Ababa has started to see worsening water problems in recent years. Now, it seems that going through an entire week without water has become common in a number of areas in the city.
This problem has created chaos for a significant portion of the populace. Carrying plastic containers and traveling to other areas, then lining up for hours to get those containers filled with water and go back home, is an every day occurrence.
Water shortage is a much serious problem than having no electricity. Actually, it can’t be compared to anything, because it is used in practically everything we do. Losing water for a week means as simple as not having anything to drink, not being able to wash your face or hands in the morning, not being able to wash your clothes, keep your surroundings clean or not being able to cook. This puts a lot of strain on a society.
The shortage of water also affects the operations of businesses such as hotels. Now, it is common to ask hotels if there is water before people check in. No water, no reservation. Restaurants are affected. No water leads to unclean restrooms. Having water tanks isn’t much of a solution, because it wouldn’t last for more than a day and a half at best.
Ethiopia has set a goal to become one of the top five countries in Africa in water supply and sewerage provision to its population by 2020.The country has plans to maximize the supply of potable water and irrigation development during the Growth and Transformation Period (GTP), which is just one of its goals. The idea is to supply 20 liters of water per head daily and cover a little more than 91 percent in 2011 to 100 percent at the end of the GTP period in urban areas.
The speedy expansion and growth of the capital has, clearly, become a huge factor in increasing the demand for potable water. Massive concrete structures being built around the city demand huge amounts of water enhancing the water shortage problem. On average, including industry use, people in Addis Ababa use 110 liters of water per person every day; this figure is nothing compared to water usage in developed countries such as the US where 600 liters per person is consumed.
Ethiopia has so far not lived up to the name that has been attributed to it; the water tower of Africa. The country is blessed with abundant water resources, but we have not been able to enjoy these resources mainly because the infrastructure is simply not there.
Addis Ababa will keep on expanding; more people will want to settle here; therefore, more houses will be built. In the future, the city is expected to become one of the most populated cities in the entire world and balancing the demand and supply will continue to become a huge challenge.
Other than the increased number of settlers in the city and the construction boom, there are other factors that contribute to the shortage of water. One is misuse and wastage. We don’t have the habit of conserving water. When it is there, we just take it for granted and think it will continue to be there forever. When there is a leaking pipe in the house, we usually wait until it breaks down completely instead of getting it fixed instantly. We also leave the water running in the kitchen or bathroom, especially in public places. These things might seem so insignificant at the time and that it wouldn’t make much difference, but it really does.
We need to take serious lessons from the water shortage that the city is currently facing and should start using it appropriately.