Sustaining growth through water security

The challenge

The Awash is a large and complex river basin, home to around 14 million people and many different water users. The basin is an important region for Ethiopia’s economy; its water resources support urban areas, manufacturing, rural households, wetlands, agriculture and pastoralist livelihoods.

Water use in the basin is already high and irrigation schemes are expanding. Manufacturing and agriculture are more concentrated at the upper end of the basin, resulting in pollution and water shortages for the downstream populations, including the agro-pastoralists and pastoralists.

In 2015/16 the Awash basin experienced the worst drought in over 30 years, which had a severe impact on livelihoods, economic productivity and food security in the basin.

The observatory

Our research will provide new evidence on how water risks, such as drought, slow down a country’s economic growth.

The link between economic growth (mostly upstream in the basin) and the multidimensional poverty experienced by women, men and children associated with these changes in water security (mostly downstream) is not well understood.

We will model the trade-offs between water security for economic development and human development within the basin. Our work will help identify combinations and sequences of investment in water management to support both economic growth and poverty reduction.

Research questions

  1. What evidence is there for water-related economic drag in the Awash basin?
  2. Using a risk-based approach, what are the appropriate levels, combinations and sequences of investment in multi-sector water management and efficiency to support both economic and human development?
  3. How can the trade-offs between large-scale productive water uses and water security for household water use and livelihoods be managed as part of Ethiopia’s development?

News and blog

Water-related extremes and economic shocks in Ethiopia, August 2016

Publications

Vivid Economics (2016) Water resources and extreme events in the Awash basin: economic effects and policy implications, report prepared for the Global Green Growth Institute, April 2016

REACH (2015) Country Diagnostic Report, Ethiopia. REACH Working Paper 2, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Research team

University of Addis Ababa: Dr Woldeamlak Bewket, Dr Tassew Woldehanna

University of Oxford: Dr Paola Ballon, Dr Katrina Charles, Dr Simon Dadson, Dr Ellen Dyer, Dr Feyera Hirpa, Professor Richard Washington

Water and Land Resource Centre: Dr Tena Alamirew Agumassie, Dr Elias Tedla Shiferaw, Dr Meron Teferi Taye

Dr Gete Zeleke, Water and Land Resource Centre

‘Understanding how water security affects Ethiopia’s growth and poverty reduction efforts is vital to realising its drive for middle-income status by 2025.’

© 2017 REACH