By Ekaterina Kilima – Art in Tanzania internship
According to the World Bank (2019), Ethiopia is one of the priority African countries for the Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP) programs. In other words, a lot of money is being invested in Ethiopia to improve its water and sanitation systems. Currently, Addis Ababa is considered a region with very safe drinking water (85 % of water is low risk) compared to other regions of Ethiopia (only 7% of water is low risk in particular places) (CSAE 2017). Access to clean drinking water is a big inequality issue as the region’s poorest people barely have access to high quality water unlike the richest group.
A recent epidemiological study conducted by Wolde et al. (2020) suggested that the clean water in Addis Ababa might be exposed to bacteria and parasites more during the wet season (January-October) due to high rainfall. The results of the study have shown that, although mostly insignificant, slight contamination was found in the water samples from public taps and reservoirs (around 6% each). Traces of fecal coliforms and total coliforms were found in those samples. The highest contamination results were observed in the water samples from springs and wells (76% and 79% contamination respectively). The number of fecal coliforms was decreasing with every week of the season while the number of total coliforms was increasing. Moreover, some samples were collected from Akaki, Gefersa, and Lege Dadi water plants but the parasitological results for them were negative. Wolde et al (2020) also note that the quality of the water might depend on the condition of the water supply reservoirs. For example, most reservoirs in Addis Ababa are well maintained. However, most springs are often exposed to heavy rain, flood, and microorganism contamination. It is important to check the serviceability of the public and private taps in a timely manner and to prevent them from being tied with cloths, ropes, and plastic tubes as it can enhance the contamination. This statement can also be proved by another study conducted by the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia in 2017. It was found that nearly 95% of households that receive low-risk water, get it from improved high-quality sources. The most common source of clean drinking water was the piped water on premises while the most dangerous was unprotected springs and surface water (CSAE 2017).
Some key lessons to remember are that the highest quality water is usually consumed in urban areas rather than rural and this water comes from secured and improved sources such as public pipes or kiosks. Bottled water is also a good source of high-quality water but is not consumed by many people. It is important to maintain the quality of the water reservoirs and make necessary repairments to ensure that people get good quality water. One of the biggest social issues regarding water supply is inequality because Addis Ababa poorest areas still do not have access to clean water.