[WLRC, Dec. 2023]: Water and Land Resource Centre (WLRC ) conducted Water Security for the Poor (REACH) Project output dissemination workshop on “Risk-based Paradigm for Water Stewardship Resilience”, 7th and 8th of December 2023 at Capital Hotel, Addis Ababa. The aim of the workshop was to share the research findings with stakeholders and policy makers who ought to join efforts towards enhancing water security in Ethiopia and the HoA Region.

The Director General of WLRC Dr. Gete Zeleke in his welcoming speech explained that the Water Security for the Poor project traversed a long journey in two phases of information generation, capacity building components and the development of information sharing platform. The thematic areas of REACH-Ethiopia in the first phase were water security for fragile ecosystems, inequalities in small town water security, and water security for economic growth. The second phase of the project focused on water quality in the Awash Basin and water insecurity, equity and resilience, and climate resilience. In both phases, useful research findings that can inform and influence policies and strategies were generated. Dr. Gete thence commended the sharing of the research outputs to wider audiences to improve policy and practice in the management of water resources.

The representative of the State Minister of Water and Energy Mr. Debebe Deferso in his opening remark outlined the contributions of REACH project, mainly in the two fundamental initiatives that supported the MoWE: the capacity building component and the AwashWare. He explained that WLRC organized a number of capacity building engagements such as trainings, supporting PhD researchers, and equipping them with artificial intelligence techniques that can be employed in a big data analysis. On the other initiative of the REACH Project, AwashWare has developed a computer program where the data used for various analyses in Awash Basin is made accessible to researchers.

Mrs. Martha Solomon from Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on her part addressed the essence of improving water security for the poor, which is the most essential element that calls for joint efforts from stakeholders towards mitigating the problem at national and international levels. She emphasized that, along that line, FCDO highly supports research and knowledge generation efforts of the REACH project as the output of the project is vital for policy making and practice.

UNICEF WASH Manager Mr. Kabuki Banda on his part affirmed the contemporary challenges facing all communities with respect to water services, including improving water security for the most vulnerable people living in drought-prone areas. UNICEF has supported sector ministries and communities to ensure sustainable services and strengthen resilience, including the development of protocols for groundwater potential mapping, development of multi-village water schemes, and professional management of operation and maintenance of water schemes.

The participants of the project were from EMI, UNICEF, MoWE, IRC, AAWSA, Debre Tabor University, AAU-EIWR, AAU-AAiT, Awash Basin Administration, CRS, EIAR, FCCDO, water suppliers, AAEPA, MoA-SLMP, EAS, WUE, AAU-CES, OWEB, EPA, and WRI.

The REACH Project was implemented since September 2015 as a collaborative project between Teams from Oxford University, WLRC Ethiopia, Universities in Kenya and Bangladesh since. WLRC has been the coordinator of the research in Ethiopia.