Competing Narratives of Water Resources Management in Ethiopia

Catherine Fallon Grasham

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In Ethiopia, urban water supply and irrigation are competing for water resources. The Millennium Development Goals have spurred large donor investment in water supply resulting in a rapid increase in coverage for health and human development. At the same time, most of Ethiopia’s population is engaged in low-productivity rainfed agriculture and the government has made smallholder irrigation an investment priority for food security and poverty alleviation. In areas where water is physically scarce, there is fierce competition between water supply and irrigation resulting in unsustainable abstraction from common pool water resources. In the Haramaya watershed in Eastern Ethiopia, this has resulted in the severe depletion of Haramaya Lake, once an important water source for urban water supply for the historical town of Harar. Unregulated smallholder irrigation has expanded significantly and has displaced the urban water supply to over 72 km away. Water developments have been influenced by land-use change, international, national and local institutions and biophysical changes in the watershed. This chapter employs the nascent concept of the waterscape in order to explore how competition for water resources plays a role in the mediation of land-use change and vice versa.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLand Use Competition
Subtitle of host publicationEcological, Economic and Social Perspectives
EditorsJörg Niewöhner, Antje Bruns, Patrick Hostert, Tobias Krueger, Jonas Ø. Nielsen, Helmut Haberl, Christian Lauk, Juliana Lutz, Daniel Müller
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-33628-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-33626-8
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2016

Publication series

NameHuman-Environment Interactions


  • Food security
  • Poverty
  • Land-use change
  • Scale
  • Waterscape

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