Study looks for ways to save Lake Zeway

Wolkite University will conduct a study, along with other stakeholders, to help stop harmful practices along the banks of Lake Zeway. The study which is expected to begin in the next Ethiopian calendar, 2010 has not secured a budget so far. Human and industrial waste is being pumped into the lake as water is also being taken out for horticulture, onion, potato and tomato irrigation.

“Lake Zeway is drying, which is affecting fish, aquatic animals and communities living around the lake,” Professor Dejene Ayele, President of Wolkite University told Capital.

“By August we will select key stakeholders to participate including farmers, community members, and regulatory bodies. Then we will obtain funding,” he said.

Lake Zeway has five islands; Debre Sina, Galila, Bird Island and Tulu Gudo, which is home to a monastery and is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant around the ninth century. The early 20th-century explorer Herbert Weld Blundell describes the northern shores as being covered by papyrus. Weld Blundell includes in his account “a curious tradition, perhaps suggested by the apparent elevated shore,” that the lake “was a kingdom 50 miles across, inhabited by seventy-eight chiefs,” which disappeared in a single night.

The freshwater lake is located about 100 miles south of Addis Ababa and straddles the border between Oromia and the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region. The lake is fed primarily by two rivers, the Meki from the west and the Katar from the east, and is drained by the Bulbar which empties into Lake Abijatta. The lake’s catchment has an area of 7025 square kilometers.

Lake Zeway is known for its population of birds and Hippos. It supports a fishing industry; according to the Ethiopian Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, 2,454 tons of fish are caught each year.