[WLRC, Dec. 2023]: Water and Land Resource Centre (WLRC) Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub (GCRF Project), in association with Addis Ababa Plan and Development Commission (AAPDC), conducted validation workshop on “Water Sensitive Planning (WSP) Strategies for Sustainable Urban Development in Melkashene (Fenta) Watershed, Upper Awash Basin Addis Ababa”, 14th of December 2023 at Azzeman Hotel, Addis Ababa. According to organizers, the overarching goal of the workshop was to validate the studies that had been conducted in WSP that seamlessly integrate urban planning practices. Specifically, WSP aims to foster strategies that enable to address the complex water challenges arising from rapid urbanization and enhance community resilience by incorporating WSP principles into urban planning.

The Deputy Director General of WLRC Dr. Tena Alamirew in his welcoming speech stated that the expansion of urbanization via-a-vis water sensitive planning is a contemporary challenge of urban areas in Ethiopia. Addis Ababa city is not a water-smart city and, as the matrices show, the water sensitivity of Addis Ababa is very low. Hence, the study conducted in Melkashene Watershed is crucial to further zoom in the design of the urban area to be water sensitive that will serve as a learning watershed for the rest of the city, Dr. Tena explained.

The validation workshop was opened by the Deputy Commissioner for AAPDC Ato Geremew Worku who outlined the current water challenges in Addis Ababa City. Ato Geremew indicated that the water security problems in Addis Ababa include shortage of clean water supply following the expansion of urbanization and population surge in Addis Ababa, and that led to water infrastructural lashes and strains to water systems. Ato Geremew highlighted the essence of water- sensitive urban planning to integrate water management into urban planning for a comprehensive applicable urban planning, which is appropriate for Addis Ababa that is under a massive reconstruction.

Results of studies conducted at three sites of the Akaki catchment, Upper Awash Basin watershed were presented by the researchers for validation. The findings of the studies on water resources and quality, water supply and sanitation, drainage and sewerage system, green spaces and land use, socio-economic challenges, and governance challenges insight into water challenges and emphasized the need for sustainable water management and WSP.

Around 30 participants drawn from urban planners and water engineers of the city authorities, sub-city and woreda level experts, and community representatives participated in the validation workshop.