Resilience Water supply, sanitation service provision and hygiene in Awash Basin, Ethiopia: Sustainable Growth and multi-performing infrastructural arrangements for climate change mitigation

Columbia University GSAPP/ (Professor Julia Watson )
Eleni Stefania Kalapoda

Water supply, sanitation provision, and hygiene in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia are grossly deficient, as in most cities in sub-Saharan Africa. The combination of the emergent water scarcity due to climate change and the chronic lack of adequate sanitation infrastructure is now threatening the resiliency of the low-income households and the informal settlements of the Addis Ababa’s periphery. Struggling between the perception of the grassroots who identify the access to safe water and urban sanitation as a right, and the government’s development agenda that sees Addis Ababa as the center for the country’s economic expansion, the city’s infrastructure is at high risk when assessed for resilient urban sanitation and water supply provision to its inhabitants. This paper builds upon the recent Addis Ababa’s Resilience Strategy to focus on the Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority’s plan (aiming to build 3,000 shared sanitation facilities as the country’s first sewage grid) to identify how these perceptions intertwine between the communities and the government, to examine how just and inclusive the AAWSA’s urban sanitation and water supply provision plan is and explore the overall qualitative and quantitative impact of improving the urban water flows in and out of the city in Addis Ababa. Drawing on the recent City Water Resilience Approach (CWRA), integrated with spatial analysis, interviews, and policy documents reviews, I conclude that neither a grassroots or top-down (growth-centric) approach successfully provides sustainable and accessible urban sanitation in Addis Ababa. This mainly occurs because the conventional approaches to urban sanitary improvement at the city level do not address the dual context of Addis Ababa, as both a city of informality and the capital of Africa’s largest expanding market. The focus given to the city’s water-production-consumption cycle favors the more affluent, well-connected, service-oriented, and resilient city-center communities at the expense of the low-income, fragmented, agriculture-oriented peripheral communities where informality, urban displacement and lack of climate-mitigation infrastructure historically occur. Building on the Addis Ababa City Water Resilience Approach (CWRA), I propose that a more inclusive coordination of a multi-scalar governance approach would optimize the supply and promote sustainable demand-side management practices as workable climate change adaptation measures to water scarcity in Addis Ababa.

—Poster presented at ISI’s third annual Virtual Conference (November 16 – 17, 2022)