Ethiopia Water and Landscape Governance programme

Achieving sustainable water resources management and use in Ethiopia is not only a complex task but a huge one, for which a coordinated approach and strong water policy and legislation is needed.

The Ethiopia Water and Landscape Governance (EWLG) programme seeks to strengthen the capacity of the federal government of Ethiopia, particularly the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy (MOWIE) and other relevant institutions to accelerate implementation and institutionalization of IWRM to achieve sustainable water resources management and use.

Ethiopia is faced with a number of problems regarding water resources management. Among others, recurrent droughts,  water pollution, deforestation and land degradation are seen as the major threats to water security in the country.

Ethiopia’s rapidly increasing human population, expanding textile industry, coupled with impact of climate change, which is reducing rainfall and increasing  evaporation in some areas, make sustainable water resources management a challenge. In response to these water security and governance issues, Ethiopia adopted the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and  put in place water  policy, legislation, strategy, and  program that embrace IWRM principles.

However, implementation of IWRM in the country is constrained by capacity limitations and lack of coordination amongst the key government institutions and other stakeholders. It is against this context that the Ethiopia Water and Landscape Governance (EWLG) programme seeks to strengthen the capacity of the federal government of Ethiopia, particularly the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy (MOWIE) and other relevant institutions to accelerate implementation and institutionalization of IWRM to achieve sustainable water resources management and use.

Expansion of textile industry represents water pollution risks in Ethiopia

Geographical context 

Ethiopia is endowed with substantial amount of water resources and regarded as the ‘water tower’ of Eastern Africa. Yet, it is also a land of hydrologic extremes with significant interannual and inter-seasonal variability, and geographical disparities often accompanied with catastrophic droughts and episodic floods. The water related challenges in Ethiopia are complex. The substantial lowland areas of the country, which accounts for over 60 percent of the land mass, are unproductive or marginally productive primarily due to physical water scarcity. Even in high rainfall areas of the country, water is scarce for much of the year due to low water-storage capacity while floods cause havoc during the rainy season.

On the other hand, many of the water resources are experiencing quantitative and qualitative degradation due to over abstraction and pollution driven by population increase, urbanisation, and expanding industry. These challenges are compounded by the current lacklustre water resource management policy frameworks, and the related ineffective institutional arrangements for policy and regulation implementation and enforcement. A few glaring examples of water resource management failures in Ethiopia include the demise of Lake Haramaya, the shrinking of Lake Abijata, the pollution of Awash River and Ziway and Hawassa Lakes; and siltation of Koka and Gilgel Gibe Dams and many other smaller micro-dams.


Land degradation and gulley formation leading to sedimentation of lakes in Ethiopia

To achieve its key outcome objectives the EWLG Programme is structured into three Work Packages all implemented within a theory of change outlined below.

Desired Outcome Objectives

• Improved policy and legislation on water resources governance and management

• Increased capacity of state organisations to implement IWRM (SDG6)

• Improved coordination and promotion of multisectoral approach to water and land resources planning and management

• Improved capacity to monitor, and regulate water resources use and environmental compliance in textile factories

Theory of Change 

Based on the situational analysis of the water and land resources management and use issues and challenges that Ethiopia currently faces, the EWLG programme theory of change (ToC) is in short, that:

Improving the capacity of government institutions mandated to manage water resources through multi-facted capacity building interventions, will translate into improved water governance and water security in Ethiopia.

The ToC is further illustrated diagrammatically below:

Project Interventions

Working within its theory of change and guided by emerging lessons learnt the project is responding to the water and land issues inherent in Ethiopia through implementation of a suite of interventions that includes, technical assistance on water policy and law reform, capacity building support on strategic basin planning and accelerating implementation of IWRM, training of rural communities on resilient landscape restoration, and capacity building focusing on improving resource use efficiency and environmental compliance within the textile sector in Ethiopia. Efforts are made to ensure that designed interventions are contextually responsive and takes into considerations gender and human rights as cross cutting issues.

Basin planning technical review meeting, Addis Ababa, 13-15 November 2019

Supporting resilient landscape restoration in Hawassa sub-basin

Ethiopia Water and Landscape Governance programme have, despite a delayed start, now gained substantial project implementation momentum. In tandem with its goal of improving the capacity of government institutions with interest and mandate to promote sustainable water resources management and use in Ethiopia, the programme has by December 2019 successfully;


• Provided technical support to finalise development of the National Integrated Water Resources Management plan – a strategic tool for guiding Ethiopia’s water resources management policy and practice;

• Completed a comprehensive review of Ethiopia’s groundwater law and policy;

• Conducted a pre-assessment study of 22 textile factories and 2 industrial parks across the country (a technical report with recommendations for possible interventions was developed);

• Supported the convening of national and basin level IWRM dialogues reaching more than 800 people;

• Provided technical support to develop sub-basin plans for the Rift Valley Lakes Basin (all the 4 sub basin plans were completed;

• Trained 32 government officers on Private Public Partnership (PPPs) as a strategy to mobilise more resources for water resources management and development;

• Researched and developed an IWRM training programme, together with the relevant 2 training manuals (training to be rolled out mid 2020);

• Completed stakeholder analysis for landscape restoration at Hawassa sub basin level;

• Developed a training guide and relevant programme for landscape restoration targeting District Level agricultural and NRM experts, Extension workers, development agents and Local Communities in selected woredas in Hawassa sub-basin;

• Continued to integrate gender and youth across the programme activities implemented.

Lessons Learnt

• Field activities should be implemented together with national and local stakeholders that fully understand the cultural context and have access to networks of local institutions. During the 2019 period, we have learned that conducting stakeholder analysis is crucial in identifying the right stakeholders. The project was able to achieve meaningful progress at both national and local woredas levels because of its emphasis on critical stakeholder analysis as a pre-requisite for the planning and implementation of its planned for activities.

• Landscape restoration should integrate land, water and forest management and take a bottom-up approach. It should also generate tangible benefits for local communities. All this needs to be considered in the capacity building and training programme.

• Collaboration with other development organisations, working to support water resources management and development in Ethiopia is critical for effective programme implementation. Notably, the project leveraged on the existing support and interest amongst different development organisations to achieve the convening of National and Basin level IWRM Dialogues. This saved resources and allowed for increased reach (reaching more people than what could have possible with the available project funding). Dialogues at national level were convened collaboratively and those at basin level integrated with GIZ NatuRes and Source to Sea Foundation project. Gender workshops were conducted in partnership with SMHI project.

• Even though gender mainstreaming is explicitly emphasized in Ethiopia’s Water Resources Management Policy of 1999 (article 4.1.8) the participation of women and youth in water sector is still very low. One of the things learnt, is therefore that improving mainstreaming of gender into this sector, given its being socio-culturally embedded, requires very innovative and systemic approaches and or strategies. Awareness raising is not enough and thus there is need for more support in the form of research and development, to deepen our understanding and develop tools to promote gender sensitive decision making.

• Coordination among government, non-government and international stakeholders is key to leverage funding, information and resources.

Training Materials

Training Manual: Water Productive and Resilient Landscape Management Technologies

The primary objectives of the manual are to elaborate the modules and associated sessions on technologies and approaches for water productive and resilient landscapes through examples supported by scientific findings. Secondly, it provides a reference material to the trainees which can be used as a practical guide during their day-to-day activities. The manual is a living document that can be used as a basis for exchange of opinions among trainees and non-trainees and thus indirectly contribute to wider technology and skill transfer.

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IWRM training curriculum

The purpose of this IWRM training programme is to introduce target participants (stakeholders, government officials, basin office staff, and any other interested water practitioner) to the history, concept, principles and practice of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM). The aim of this training programme is to help water practitioners develop a solid understanding of IWRM as both a philosophy and practice for achieving improved and coordinated water resources management. The training curriculum includes a facilitator guide, and two training manuals, manual 1 focusing on history, concept and principles of IWRM and manual 2 exploring practical ways of accelerating implementation of IWRM in the context of Ethiopia and the Rift Valley basin.

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IWRM training manual 1: Principles and Practices of Integrated Water Resources Management

The main objective of this first training manual is to introduce stakeholders to the basic concept, principles and practice of integrated water resources management (IWRM). The learning outcome being to help these stakeholders develop a working understanding of IWRM which can translate into accelerated implementation and improved water resources management in the Rift Valley Lakes basin. The training takes into consideration and build on participants’ prior knowledge and experiences of working in the water sector. It is participatory and adopts a social learning approach.

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IWRM training manual 2: Guidelines for Practical Implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management

IWRM Manual 2 seeks to equip target water practitioners with knowledge and skills required to plan and implement IWRM interventions at basin levels. The manual provides basic information on what needs to be done in order to accelerate implementation of IWRM. These guidelines are not exhaustive but meant to stimulate discussion and learning around implementing IWRM within a given context.

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Training manual on landscape restoration

Landscape restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed. Forest and landscape restoration addresses restoration at a landscape scale, often encompassing several ecosystems and land uses, as a way of enabling users to achieve trade-offs among conflicting interests and balancing social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits. The primary objectives of these modules are to provide training and practice to capacitate participants to identify and plan the most-effective restoration strategies and methodologies, identify ecosystem services provided by landscapes, design and implement restoration measures while integrating physical, biological and socioeconomic aspects, and monitor and evaluate results.

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Water productive and resilient landscape management technologies and approaches


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Workshop Reports

Stakeholder Analysis report

Stakeholder analysis and dialogue were conducted with key partners in the Hawassa catchment, rift valley basin with the objective of better understanding the system and assess stakeholders’ interest, priorities and power relations as well as the interaction among them. The process of understanding the system and identifying stakeholders employed 26 key informant interviewees who are familiar with the issue and the change objective. These represent a range of governmental organizations, NGOs, private sectors and civil societies; and expertise including watershed and soil and water conservation experts, agronomists, foresters, environmentalists, socio-economists, program managers, economic development advisor, and monitoring and evaluation advisor.

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Workshop Report on Capacity Building for Landscape Restoration

A one-day workshop titled “Capacity building for landscape restoration: role of multi-stakeholder forum” was held in Hawassa catchment, Ethiopia. The objectives of the workshop were: (I) Introducing the new initiative: Capacity Building for Landscape Project for members of the forum, (II) Sharing and validating the preliminary results on stakeholder analysis, (III) discussing and identifying key areas that the forum would play a significant role, (IV) discussing on how can we institutionalize the forum and sustaining it, and (V) approval of the request for membership of SIWI/IWMI project.

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Community Level meetings summary

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World Water Week at Home

This WWWeek At Home showcase shares experiences and lessons learnt from The Ethiopia Water and Landscape Governance (EWLG) Programme on pathways for strengthening water and landscape governance.

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