[WLRC, April 2024]: Water and Land Resource Centre (WLRC) in association with International Water Management Institute (IWMI) disseminated research outputs of Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub (GCRF) Project and Improving Water for the Poor (REACH) Project at a workshop entitled, “Building water-secure future in the Awash Basin: insights from water security researches”, which was held on the 1st and 2nd of April 2024 at Haile Grand Hotel, Addis Ababa. The aim of the workshop was to share the research findings of the hub project with relevant stakeholders operating in the Awash Basin and encourage them to implement insights of research outputs in view of realizing a water secure future in the basin.

The Director General of WLRC Dr. Gete Zeleke on his welcoming speech said that the Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub Project (2019 – 2023) engaged in research and capacity building components and the creation of knowledge-sharing platforms in the Abbay, Awash and Central Rift Valley basins. He referred to the research works that were co-produced with and recognized by the Newcastle University and published in reputable and highly-indexed journals. He emphasized the need to share these research outputs with stakeholders and business owners, before the project phases out, to bring change on water security of Awash Basin, a key issue that needs the alliance of all stakeholders from the top decision makers to the grassroots community level actors and users. As another example, Dr. Gete mentioned the nearly one thousand deep boreholes in Addis Ababa, which he said are arbitrarily constructed by private users to secure their water demand, without considering their potential impact on the water security of the basin. He also caste light on the research findings disseminated in the workshop that showed the dynamism of the water security problems in the Awash River, the increasing of pollutant sources, the consequences of the problems, and the possible solutions to mitigate the problems.

While opening the Workshop, the State Minister of Water and Energy Dr. Abreha Adugna highlighted the hotspot agendas on water security and outlined the contributions of WLRC through projects such as the Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub and REACH, in creating conducive environment to mobilize and engage all stakeholders, to introduce new knowledge platforms and adopt models. H.E. Dr. Abraha indicated that the GCRF and REACH projects organised a number of capacity-building and knowledge-sharing engagements such as trainings, workshops, and data generation tasks; supported PhD researchers; and designed knowledge-sharing platforms that inspired MoWE and its stakeholders to embark on the Integrated Water Resources Management Program at the national level. Dr. Abraha further emphasised on WLRC’s contribution to reach fundamental water security messages to audiences at all levels, including the grassroots community level, through different efforts such as by producing a music video that showed the water security problems in the Awash Basin. He also appreciated the introduction of citizen science on river health monitoring in a biological method by engaging school pupils and other community members. According to Dr. Abraha, the Ministry of Water and Energy believes that more engagements of research centers to work for and with the community will bring remarkable results on a water secure future, like what WLRC has been doing together with the concerned stakeholders.

Also the Deputy Commissioner for Addis Ababa Plan and Development Commission H.E. Ato Geremew Worku recognized WLRC for introducing the concept of Water Sensitive Urban Planning in the development arena of cities. The Water Sensitive Urban Planning concept is one of the important crucial outcomes of Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub project that shows the water security issues vis-à-vis development plans to build smart cities. Hence, the pilot study conducted in Akaki sub city Melkashene Watershed is a trigger to pursue the concept in the whole development plans of the city. Ato Geremew finally expressed his personal and institutional commitment to endorse the water sensitive urban planning in the city.

The other keynote speaker was Professor Katrina Charles on behalf of REACH Project. In her video message, Prof. Katrina recited that water is a valuable resource which needs engagement to make it sustainable for human life. In that regard, she said engagements of the REACH project in identifying the water problems in Ethiopia and the potential solutions in the form of policy implications have results with a possibility to implement by the concerned stakeholders.

In the workshop the Deputy Director of WLRC Dr. Tena Alamirew and the Deputy Country Director of IWMI Dr. Muluken Elias briefly explained their respective institutional efforts towards water security research. Presentations were made on water security risks governance, water quality dynamics, water quality and health, intersectionality, and water sensitive urban planning. Besides, a music video produced by WLRC and a newly established Water Quality Database were launched. Furthermore, 31 posters were displayed and interactive virtual activities were conducted using menti-meter.

The workshop was attended by 107 participants drawn from the MoWE, MoA, MoI, MoILL, Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority, Schools, Universities, research institutes, Health service facilities, Addis Ababa City Bureaus and sub cities, bureaus from Oromia Region, federal and regional Environment Protection Authorities, Awash Basin Administrative office, research institutions, corporations, community associations and private companies.