Gumii Paarlaamaa Oromoo (GPO)

Oromo Parliamentarians Council (OPC)


Baga Nagaan Dhuftan!Welcome to Oromo parliamentarians council!










              New Page 2 home                         

Akaki and Modjo Rivers Pollution and Impact assessment Report



Contents                                                                                                                                Page

 TOC \o "1-4" \h \z \u ACKNOWLEDGMENT PAGEREF _Toc128819342 \h 3

Acronyms PAGEREF _Toc128819343 \h 4

Chapter One PAGEREF _Toc128819344 \h 4

1.1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   PAGEREF _Toc128819345 \h 5

1.2 INTRODUCTION   PAGEREF _Toc128819346 \h 7

1.3 Background and Rationale  PAGEREF _Toc128819347 \h 8

1.4 Purpose and Scope  PAGEREF _Toc128819348 \h 9

1.5 Methodology  PAGEREF _Toc128819349 \h 9

1.5.1 Field Visit and Observation   PAGEREF _Toc128819350 \h 10

1.5.2 Data Review   PAGEREF _Toc128819351 \h 10

1.5.3 interviews Key informants’ PAGEREF _Toc128819352 \h 10

1.5.4 Community Consultation and group discussions  PAGEREF _Toc128819353 \h 10

1.5.5 Laboratory Tests  PAGEREF _Toc128819354 \h 10

1.5.6 Data Analysis  PAGEREF _Toc128819355 \h 11

1.5.7 Timeline: PAGEREF _Toc128819356 \h 11

1.5.8 Limitations of the Assessment Exercise  PAGEREF _Toc128819357 \h 11

Chapter Two; Akaki and Modjo Rivers PAGEREF _Toc128819358 \h 12

2. Description of the Akaki and Modjo Rivers  PAGEREF _Toc128819359 \h 12

2.2 Source of Pollution of the Akaki and Modjo Rivers  PAGEREF _Toc128819360 \h 13

2.2.1 Major Industrial Pollutant Sources  PAGEREF _Toc128819361 \h 13

A. Waste Treatment Status of the Industries  PAGEREF _Toc128819362 \h 14

2.2.2 Municipal Source  PAGEREF _Toc128819363 \h 14

A. Municipal Solid Wastes  PAGEREF _Toc128819364 \h 14

B. Liquid, Waste from Toilets and Open Urination Defecation Places  PAGEREF _Toc128819365 \h 15

C. Pit Latrines  PAGEREF _Toc128819366 \h 15

D. Liquid Waste from Kitchens and Bathrooms  PAGEREF _Toc128819367 \h 16

2.2.3 Medical/Clinical Source  PAGEREF _Toc128819368 \h 16

2.2.4 Agricultural Sources  PAGEREF _Toc128819369 \h 17

2.2.5 Chemicals  PAGEREF _Toc128819370 \h 17

2.2.6 Fuel stations and Garage operations  PAGEREF _Toc128819371 \h 18

Chapter Three; Studies PAGEREF _Toc128819372 \h 19

3.1 Previous studies on Akaki and Modjo Rivers  PAGEREF _Toc128819373 \h 19

3.2 Findings from Current Assessment PAGEREF _Toc128819374 \h 19

3.2.1 River Water use Patterns and its Implications  PAGEREF _Toc128819375 \h 20

A. Waste Disposal Services  PAGEREF _Toc128819376 \h 20

B. Human Consumption Services  PAGEREF _Toc128819377 \h 20

C. Parameter of Health Significant PAGEREF _Toc128819378 \h 21

D. Bacteriological Parameters  PAGEREF _Toc128819379 \h 21

E. Livestock Watering   PAGEREF _Toc128819380 \h 21

F. Irrigation Service  PAGEREF _Toc128819381 \h 22

3.2.2 Issues of Grave Concern   PAGEREF _Toc128819382 \h 23

3.2.3 Water Quality Characteristics  PAGEREF _Toc128819383 \h 23

  3.3 Impact and Linkages Impact of Deteriorating Water Quality  PAGEREF _Toc128819384 \h 23

3.3.1 Drinking water shortage. PAGEREF _Toc128819385 \h 23

3.3.2 Impact On and Risks to human health. PAGEREF _Toc128819386 \h 24

3.3.3 Implication on Quality of Life  PAGEREF _Toc128819387 \h 24

3.3.4 Impacts on Animal Health   PAGEREF _Toc128819388 \h 24

3.3.5 Impact on Education   PAGEREF _Toc128819389 \h 25

3.3.6 Impact on Productivity and Income (Livelihood) PAGEREF _Toc128819390 \h 25

3.3.7 Impact on Future Generations. PAGEREF _Toc128819391 \h 25

3.3.8 Implications on Biodiversity and Ecology. PAGEREF _Toc128819392 \h 26

3.3.9 Implications for Recreation and Tourism. PAGEREF _Toc128819393 \h 26

Chapter Four; Conclusion and Recommendations PAGEREF _Toc128819394 \h 27

4.1 Conclusion   PAGEREF _Toc128819395 \h 27

4.1 Recommendations  PAGEREF _Toc128819396 \h 27

4.2.1 General and Spesific Measures  PAGEREF _Toc128819397 \h 27




Undertaking this assignment has been enjoyable and rewarding but at the same time very challenging. For this reasons the consultants would like to express their gratitude to all organizations and as well as to individuals who contributed to the final outcome of the exercise. Without their ready kind willingness, time and assistance the execution of the exercise would not have been possible. 


The full engagement and cooperation of APAP’s responsible management and staff have been very instrumental in undertaking the task. In the light of the continued and ever-growing pollution problem of Akaki and Modjo Rivers APAP’s position must be applauded for taking the initiative to bring to light the issue of these rivers pollution which have been affecting the life of many people living around and using the rivers waters.



ACORD=       Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development

APAP=          Action Professionals Association for People

AAWSA=       Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority 

BOD=             Biological Oxygen Demand

COD=            Chemical Oxygen Demand

CIP=               Cleaner Industrial Production

DO=               Dissolved Oxygen

EPA=             Environmental Protection Authority

EPB =            Environmental Protection Bureau

FGD=             Focus Group Discussion

ELICO=         Ethiopian Leather Industries Corporation

MOH=                        Ministry of Health

PCB=             Poly Chloriated Biphenyls  

UNDP=          United Nations Development Program

WHO=            World Health Organization

UNIDO=        United Nations Development Organization

 NOC=           National oil company

UBP=                         United petroleum products


Chapter One


This document presents general information and selected highlights on findings of the assessment on water pollution of Akaki and Modjo Rivers and its impact. The assignment was commissioned by APAP and carried out by a team of consultants commissioned for the work as part of its new initiative to study and protect the right of people affected by environmental pollution.

The prime aim of the exercise was to provide a broad description of the Akaki and Modjo rivers pollution current status and the commensurate effect on the life and health of people living around these areas particularly the people living down stream.  

This assessment was conducted from January to February 2006 along the Akaki and Modjo riverbanks and furthermore the surrounding catchments area mainly focusing on the rural parts, downstream of the rivers, Peasant Associations were covered by the assessment. 

Much of the evidence compiled for this assessment was also derived from document consultations, physical observation of the various activities, mapping of the sites and from-person and group interviews. Laboratory analysis of water samples from selected sites were collected and analyzed for chemical and bacteriological contamination. An attempt was also made to identify clinical cases associated with water pollution (list annexed).

Humans need good quality water for drinking and hygiene and it is essential for all forms of economic activity. The environment also needs water to maintain delicate ecosystems and the overall catchment’s people health.

Akaki- MODJO surface water (rivers and streams) support important aquatic ecosystems that sustain a diverse range of plants and animals and supply drinking water for most of the rural communities along the river banks estimated at over 20000 population (Projection from the Census) it is also used for various living activities

The rivers are also used for many different purposes and sustain a great deal of water supply for irrigated agriculture, manufacturing, and food processing and construction industries and have potential to provide a focus for water-based recreational activities and eco-tourism. However, the pollution of these rivers and streams has affected these values in an adverse manner.

As many growing countries with the development of industries, urbanization and inadequate environmental management, Ethiopia is also facing serious environmental problems. The extent and severity of water pollution problem is more amplified in major areas like Addis Ababa and Modjo where population and industries are growing at a faster rate. And the state of water pollution is at its highest state at present.

Major pollution stresses are evident in the catchment’s area of Akaki and the Modjo Rivers and their tributaries causing the problem of water quality deterioration.

The source of pollution to these rivers includes pollutants discharged from the receiver of untreated industry plants; municipal, clinical, and other sources of liquid waste, irrigation drainage, from construction land clearing and poor land management, inefficient water use and sediments via storm water during rainy season. Faecal contamination from animals and poorly maintained septic tank systems are also causing the water pollution problems.

Much of the vegetables supplied to the city of Addis Ababa are grown and irrigated from the water of these two river sources while water for agriculture and an invaluable drinking water supply to the people is from these rivers particularly down stream. Where there is no alternative surface or ground water.

The Akaki’s groundwater resources are also critical to the city of Addis Ababa since it is contributing 30% of the city’s water supply, providing social, economic and environmental benefits.

However, there is a growing concern that groundwater close to the surface water of the Akaki River is facing the risk of pollution; industrial discharges from companies can introduce pollutants, pesticides, heavy metals and organic pollutants that may seriously degrade groundwater quality.

Polluted water affects biodiversity and reduces agricultural and horticultural productivity. Human health is also at risk if contaminated groundwater is used for domestic supplies in an untreated state. Maintaining good quality water in these environmentally sensitive basins is of paramount importance.

Coupled with the over settlement, population growth and economic activities in the past decade, increased pollution has exposed health and livelihood of communities in Akaki and Modjo areas to greater risk and continue to affect them.

It is evident from the assessment that community settled around the catchments areas are exceptionally highly vulnerable to the water borne diseases like diarrhea, typhoid, amoebic dysentery etc, and it has been revealed from the assessment that skin infection, trachoma are rampant in these areas.

The link between water pollution, and vulnerability to different health hazards is also increasingly recognized and local communities have presented their complaints to local authorities at different times seeking appropriate action to address the problem.

Water pollution problem is also affecting the economic means of the community by affecting cattle and other domestic animals and all other aspects of their economical activities in each of the sites investigated.

Despite the decades-long existence and growing level of pollution and its impact on the health and livelihood of people and the environment along the two river basins, attention and commensurate action to support for the community is minimal or non existent either at the institutional, local or community level.

It is also impossible to devise effective environmental policy unless it is based on sound scientific information. Apart some studies by higher-level institutions there are no comprehensive assessments or studies conducted on both the river basins so far leaving large information gaps which could also be regarded as a major concern.

The availability of fresh water is a basic right of all human beings and it is the duty of state to provide clean drinking water to people. The new constitution of Ethiopia stresses the importance of sustainable development and environmental protection .The approval of the environmental policy of Ethiopia in 1997 was a major step of a recognizing the importance of environmental management.

However, the development of any environmental legislation both for rural and urban areas on federal, regional and city levels is yet come in Ethiopia. Coordination and mutual support among stakeholders in addressing environmental issues and is also minimal.

There is also a growing concern that Environmental issues could be also a source of conflicts between regions, communities and other entities in future unless and otherwise addressed timely and in an adequate manner.

Hence addressing pollution related issues of the two rivers and taking urgent interventions for highly vulnerable communities affected by the problem are of vital importance.

While the evidence on the ground poses concerns and challenges, it must be noted that environmental issues also provide opportunity since they are global agenda of our times. What are required are commitment and joint effort and responsible action. It is in this context that the present research project undertaken.

The study is, by no means exhaustive, since it was a rapid assessment in a short period of time available as requested by the client but no doubt important. It is believed to shed some light on tackling the recurring nightmare of this tragic situation of pollution to the public in general and to local communities downstream the rivers of Akaki and Modjo in particular.

It is hoped to that this assessment will add information to the body of knowledge about pollution. It is also believed that all concerned bodies will use this report to inform the internal and external processes of prioritizing and designing a response targeting in the shorter and longer terms

The report will present major area of the assessment in terms of Background, Findings, Conclusions, and finally outlines recommendations based on the information collected during the assessment.


Perhaps it is very important to note that in our times there is growing evidence that attention and concerns are given to environmental pollution related issues. However, we need to recognize the growing demand of human development and the limitation of available gifts of nature that support life is widening. The situation is further aggravated by environmental pollution and degradation due to irresponsible human activities.

It has now become critical to understand the dynamic nature of the ecosystem if we are determined to address environmental pollution and its effect. The ecosystem as a system has four interrelated components that support and feed each other in a cycle. These are the biotope, which includes air, water and soil as the first part. Green plants are considered as producers within the system, since they convert solar energy to chemical energy that plays an important role in keeping the ecosystem balance. The third unit comprises the consumers. Microorganisms that are also critical in maintaining balance within the system comprises the fourth component. The physical, chemical, and biological processes attributes to the self-maintenance of the ecosystem. Pollution disturbs the ecosystem causing undesirable devastating effect that encompasses multi faceted impact on human life and its environment,

Pollution is defined as:  “to make foul, unclean and dirty.”  Water pollution occurs when a body of water is adversely affected due to the addition of large amounts of polluting materials to the water.  When it is unfit for its intended use, water is considered polluted.  Two types of water pollutants exist; point source and nonpoint source.  Point sources of pollution occur when harmful substances are emitted directly into a body of water. While the non- point sources is usually unidentified.

Comprising over 70% of the earth’s surface, water is undoubtedly the most precious natural resource that exists on our planet.  Without the seemingly invaluable compound comprised of hydrogen and oxygen, life on earth would be non-existent: it is essential for everything on our planet to grow and prosper. 

Like most countries Ethiopia is blessed with water resources being second after Zaire in surface water potential in Africa. Although most of us as citizens recognize this fact, we disregard it by polluting our rivers, lakes, and other water sources.

Consequently, we are slowly but surely harming our environment to the point where organisms are dying at a very alarming rate.  In addition to innocent organisms dying off, our drinking water has become greatly affected, as is our ability to use water for recreational purposes. 

More than one third of the world’s population, that is 2.4 billion people, has no access to clean water.  Indeed, the availability of clean, fresh water is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity today. Water is essential for health, agriculture, security, power generation, transportation as well as for balanced ecosystems. Furthermore, access to water is a human right as it is the most basic requirement of life.

Health depends on the availability of nutrition, and poor productivity of food triggers malnutrition. Food production can be enhanced hugely by the existence of adequate water resources and efficient irrigation systems. In other words, water is vital for the provision of nutrition. Inadequate access to water is a core cause of people’s poverty. It has an effect on their basic needs, health, food security and basic livelihoods of the poor. Improving access of poor people to water will potentially make a major contribution towards poverty reduction.

Without safe drinking water, human beings cannot survive. Water-related diseases are among the most common causes of illness and death, and more than three million people die every year from diseases caused by unsafe water. The majority of people affected by contaminated and unhealthy water live in developing countries.

The issue of water, its quality, its quantity, and its guaranteed availability to all people regardless of income or social status is one of the most pressing challenges facing the world community today. Every year, some 3.4 million people, mostly children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene. Over half of hospital beds in the world are filled with people suffering from water-borne diseases. 

Addressing the water issues by development agencies and governments reiterate the broader commitment to meeting all the Millennium Development Goals and fulfilling the Johannesburg Plan of Action agreed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

The situation of water scarcity is further complicated by pollution. The challenge, however, remains for better management of water resources so that the quality of water is maintained on the one hand and requirements of different users are also met on the other. It is needless to state that the importance of safe water should be brought to the notice of all concerned that could play an important role in this connection.

Against this background, APAP initiated a program that addresses environmental problems of affected communities as their basic right to be respected and protected. The main objectives of this concern are raising awareness of the essential importance of protecting water resources for satisfying basic human needs, for health and food production, and the promotion of ecosystems as well as for overall economic and social development.

Pollution of the Akaki and Modjo rivers and streams and tributaries with chemical contaminants has become one of the most crucial environmental problems that need urgent attention. Waterborne chemical pollution entering rivers and streams causes great amounts of destruction to the environment and   people that are using the river water in their daily life.

 In this context, pollution prevention and water management is becoming an important issue of major concern in Ethiopia. Hence, Federal and Regional governments alike should make relentless efforts to improve the situation of river pollution of Akaki and Modjo rivers. An urgent measure must be taken to create access to safe water sources and to provide sanitation facilities to the people for living and working along the catchments areas of these rivers.

1.3 Background and Rationale

The Akaki (Little and Great Akaki) and the Modjo river basin have catchment’s areas estimated at about 500-600sq.kms. The Akaki (Little and Great Akaki) and Modjo rivers lie and cross the Addis Ababa City and Modjo town and cover 200-300 Kms of streams and small rivers as tributaries. The population of the rural communities living along the riverbanks is estimated to be 150-200,000 populations. (Projection from the last national Census of 1994).

Akaki Modjo surface waters of (rivers and streams) support important aquatic ecosystems that sustain a diverse range of plants and animals and supply drinking water for most people living along downstream of the rivers. These rivers are the habitat of more than 100 different species of birds, wildlife fish, aquatic clams, insects and other creatures. Akaki’s groundwater resources are contributing 30% of the city’s water supply and it is providing important social, economic and environmental benefits.

The lives of large numbers of rural people, particularly downstream, depend on the Akaki and Modjo rivers. They also sustain much of irrigated agriculture, manufacturing, and provide a potential for water-based recreational activities and eco-tourism. The pollution of both the rivers and their streams has adversely affected this potential. This diverse range of land uses places pressure on water resources and impacting on water quality.

The capital city, Addis Ababa and Modjo areas are highly populated and fast growing industrial centers in the country. Since waste management facilities for industries and domestic waste are not provided adequately, pollution of the two rivers continued to be always very high.

As the condition stands today, wastes generated from different point and non-point sources is reaching the rivers easily and these rivers are serving as natural sewerage line. Faecal contamination from animals and poorly maintained septic tank systems are also causing the rivers pollution problems. As result major pollution stresses are evident in the catchments areas of Akaki and Modjo Rivers.

Low level of awareness, weak enforcement mechanism on pollution prevention and control, and low level of income of the city dwellers greatly contributed to the pollution of these rivers. Maintaining good quality water in this environmentally sensitive area is of paramount importance. Local pollution from industrial discharges and spills could introduce contaminants, pesticides, heavy metals and organic pollutants to Akaki River that in turn could seriously expose and put at risk the groundwater particularly close to the river.

Generally in the years to come it is expected that Industrial and agricultural pollutants will grow as the national and regional economy expands. Hence, pollution and its adverse effect will certainly grow unless new approaches to protect the environment are found and introduced around the Akaki and Modjo rivers. This background and the rational have been the prime reasons to undertake this descriptive assessment.

1.4 Purpose and Scope


The Purpose of the assignment could be outlined as follows;

·         To provide a broad description of the current pollution status of the Akaki Modjo rivers area by conducting Environmental Pollution and Hazard Assessments.

·         To establish the relationship of water pollution and its adverse effect on the health and livelihood  (socio -economy) of the  inhabitants and the community

·         And to highlight the related damage caused to the surrounding environment around the Akaki Modjo river basins.


1.5 Methodology


A key feature of the methodology used by the consultant was the development of structured assessment tools and checklists that may be used in future in similar sites and contexts. The consultant sought to use multiple data collection methods to enrich understanding and to validate findings.

Members of the assessment team began their task by conducting a literature review and by gathering data from various from sources.

Inventory guides, and checklist were prepared to gather information, including data pertaining to pollution sources and, settlements and activities. Team members used these guides to compile information following the routes of the two rivers.

Over all, 77 people were interviewed, 40 in Akaki, covering four kebeles, and 37 in Modjo, covering three kebeles. (The list of which annexed as annex 11)

They obtained similar information about major polluting activities in the study sites. Data was also collected from concerned institutions that are responsible with environmental management and services, the list of which includes Woreda health, agriculture and environmental protection offices with aim to gain an insight into the situation and major impediments that affective environmental protection and management.


1.5.1 Field Visit and Observation

The team commenced their task by making a general observation by driving and walking along the rivers banks and took sketching map of the sites under investigation that provided a spatial representation of routes of the rivers, highways, and social services, identified settlement areas, major sources of pollution of the two rivers. They also took pictures and videos at each site.


1.5.2 Data Review

The exercise followed by reviewing the existing published data on the two river basins. The desk review consisted of an extensive search and review of the published and gray literature, including the electronic literature.

The literature search and review included:

Akaki water and Modjo river studies, reports, Workshop deliberations etc….

• National Environmental protection policy, Strategic plan and report, Addis Ababa city Administration policy documents and Strategic plan on Environmental protection

• Consultation on APAP Strategic plan and program documents and project activities report on related environmental issues.


1.5.3 interviews Key informants’

The key informants included APAP management staff. The team also interviewed Woreda office heads, Health Agriculture and rural development office water authority staff as important gatekeepers.

Interviews with these key informants provided an important source of information on the work of each offices, collaboration arrangements and plans for future cooperation. These interviews focused on organizational arrangement and authority issues, program priorities and on going interventions in regard to addressing Akaki and Modjo rivers pollution and in understanding the context of each site. A complete list of offices contacted is shown (as appendix 11).


1.5.4 Community Consultation and group discussions



The interviews and group discussions sought to collect data on perceptions and concerns of the community. In the focus group discussions a total of 77 people participated in four groups each consisting 18-20 people that represent different social and age groups. Participants of the group discussions list is presented as (annex 8 a, 8b, 8c). most of the participants that represented divers age and social status were mainly from Akaki area and Lume woreda rural kebeles farmer associations living and working along the rivers bank for a considerable time. A group of people from vegetable growing cooperative members, who are using polluted rivers water were also approached and interviewed to reflect their views and experiences regarding rivers pollution.


1.5.5 Laboratory Tests

Current water quality assessment was conducted through laboratory analysis of water samples collected at selected sites of Akaki and Modjo rivers to evaluate the physical, chemical and bacteriological characteristics of water quality of the rivers. (Lab results are presented in the appendix 3, 4, 5 table 3, 4, 5, 6 respectively).


1.5.6 Data Analysis 

Assessment data were recorded checked, edited and analyzed. Mapping data were entered on draft maps, revised and then entered on final version maps. Key informant interviews, participant in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, observation and participatory learning appraisals and findings from laboratory analysis were summarized and integrated to provide a comprehensive picture of the environmental situation at each site.


1.5.7 Timeline:

·         Background reading and planning: 2 days

·         Assessment Team retreat: 1 day

·         Information gathering: 10- days

·         Report writing presentation preparation: 2 days


1.5.8 Limitations of the Assessment Exercise


Given the complexity nature of the work and the extent of the area under investigation, the scope of the task and the time constraints were the limiting factors faced by the assessment team. The assessment report was not intended to answer all questions surrounding environmental issue; rather, the goal was to provide an overview of the issues, as they exist at this point in time 



Chapter Two; Akaki and Modjo Rivers


2. Brief Description of the Akaki and Modjo Rivers


The Akaki river water is found mainly in Addis Ababa Administrative region while the Modjo River is located in Lume woreda crossing Modjo town.The little Akaki river basin starts from Gullele (North Addis Ababa) while the great Akaki River starts from Entoto Kidane Miheret area (North East of Addis Ababa). Many small streams from the Entoto mountain range and the adjoining suburbs converge to the two main rivers, the great and the little Akaki.

The lower stream of the little Akaki river flows through the south west side of the region and continues to flow into the rural area of Akaki in which most horticultural activities are using its water. They continue to flow into Aba Samuel dam and then inter the Awash River. The lower stream of the great Akaki flows in to the rural areas and its water is used for many activities like irrigation to grow vegetables that are supplied mainly to Addis Ababa. This great Akaki River flows through this rural area and lower catchments and it enters the Aba Samuel Dam and then continues to flow in to the river Awash. The Modjo river flows North- West crossing about six peasant associations and flows south to join the Awash river near Awash Dam. Agriculture activities are highly developed along the bank of the river.


2.1 Major Uses of the Akaki and Modjo rivers

Although the major function of the Akaki and Modjo Rivers within Addis Ababa and Modjo town is to serve as receiver of untreated industrial, municipal, clinical, and other sources of liquid wastes..

 At the peri-urban areas people also use the river water for drinking and domestic use. 


The rivers are also giving services for the urban poor as laundering and bathing water for many settlers along the banks of the rivers. Occasionally, once or twice a year   traditional ritual services are also taking place by local community as mass events.

Economical activities like cultivation and production of vegetables such as tomatoes, cabbage, and cauliflower, by using the rivers as irrigation water are highly practiced within and around Addis Ababa as well as south of Modjo town .

Despite the above stated positive facts the rivers have also become a suitable area for open-air urination and defecation. Besides, serving as waste sinks, the rivers provide a variety of beneficial services to the inhabitants of the city.

Furthermore, solid wastes having different constituents are dumped into the river and its tributaries that cross both settlement areas


2.2 Source of Pollution of the Akaki and Modjo Rivers

 Akaki and Modjo rivers pollutants originate fro two types of water pollutant sources ; point source in which pollutants emitted directly into a body of water point are known and nonpoint point source where the sources is impossible to determine.

In the case of Akaki and Modjo rivers pollution sources include; A) Industrial, B) Municipal, C) Medical/Clinical and non point sources and D)

others (such as agricultural, chemical, fuel stations and garages).  For example this type of water pollution occurs when fertilizers from a field are carried into a stream by rain and irrigated water flow. Pollution arising from nonpoint sources makes also a significant contribution to the contamination of the attributing streams and the rivers.


2.2.1 Major Industrial Pollutant Sources

Addis Ababa and Modjo town are homes for home for small and medium scale industries,  out of 741 industries found in the country 484) are in Addis Ababa (EPA, 1999). Among these industries, the major constituent industry types are food and beverages, textile, tanneries, chemicals, metal, rubber and plastic, paper and paper products, metallic, non-metallic mineral products and wood industries. Most of industries in Addis Ababa and Modjo are planted very close to the riverbanks and which a majority of them are concentrated in the Southern and Western part of the city where the little Akaki river drains.  (For List of Industries that discharge untreated waste are presented in annex and table 1a, 1b, 1c)

Major pollutants generated from industries around the Akaki and Modj Rivers include solids, organic pollutants such as oil, pesticide, cleaning solvents, detergents and inorganic pollutants such as nitrates phosphates, sulphates, chloride and others. In addition heavy metals, acids and alkalis are the most pollutant substances generated from the industries.

The volume of liquid waste produced every day from the industries ranges from 1 to 1000 cubic meters per day (CSA, 1999). The volume of waste waster annually discharged from different industries in Addis Ababa to the Akaki rivers estimated to be 4,877371 m3 (presented as annex and table 1a, 1b, 1c).

According to Fisseha and Gedlu, (1999) wastes from over 35 industrial processing plants enter the Akaki river and make it the most polluted river in the country. Wastes especially from the Akaki Textile Factory and the ELICO Tannery comprise the greatest load of pollutants.  

Those factories close to the rivers discharge their wastewater direct and those located slightly far from the river, discharge their liquid effluents into open ditches or municipal drainage, which finally flows into the river. Almost all the industrial effluents discharged are untreated and their pollutant loads, both organic and inorganic, are observed to be high. Therefore industrial effluents are one of the major pollution sources of these rivers.


A. Waste Treatment Status of the Industries


A number studies have indicated that among the industries located in Addis Ababa, 90 percent discharge their waste without any treatment into near as water bodies and open spaces EPA, 2003.

According to Girmaye, (2000) out of 25 industries surveyed 10 industries directly dispose their untreated waste waster to the little Akaki and  its tributaries while the rest dispose their liquid waste into open drainage and drainage system in the city (annex and table 1a, 1b, 1c)

A study conduct by EPA, (1997) also indicated that out of 39 industries surveyed in Addis Ababa only 3 have treatment plants, the remaining industries discharge untreated wastes into the Akaki river or its tributaries. (See annex and table 1a, 1b, 1c). Similarly all the other studies by different bodies show that nearly all industries have no treatment plants. Hence they highly contribute to the pollution of the Akaki river water.


2.2.2 Municipal Source

 Cities in developing countries are experiencing unprecedented population growth because they provide on average, greater economic and social benefits than do rural areas (World Resource Institute 1996). Rural –to- urban migration is estimated to account for 40 to 60 percent of annual urban population growth in the developing world (McGee and Giffith, 1994). Ethiopia is one of the developing countries where population growth in urban areas has been very fast. Especially in Addis Ababa, relatively the growth is faster than in other cities and urban areas. It is obvious that when the number of people increases the generation of municipal solid and liquid wastes also increases. On the contrary, the provision of municipal solid and liquid waste service coverage is very low because it is not proportionally developed. Hence it is apparent that one of the sources for the Akaki Rivers waster pollution is the municipal waste of Addis Ababa City.


A. Municipal Solid Wastes

Solid waste is that type of waste that is non-liquid and is believed to comprise organic as well as non-organic materials. Organic materials are termed as “useless” and are generated by households in the first place. This type of solid waste usually called “Municipal Waste” and include “street sweeping” waste. Moreover, commercial, institutional and industrial establishments and activities therein also generate solid waste.

Domestic solid waste that is piled on available open grounds, stream banks, bridge area and uncollected solid wastes, which are transported by storm, run –off into the Akaki and modjo rivers.

Solid waste management is considered to be among the most serious environmental problems of Addis Ababa. According to SBPDA solid waste management status report (July 2003), the daily waste production of the city is 2,297 m3 or 765 tones. Of the daily solid waste generated in Addis Ababa, 65% is collected and 5% composted. The remaining 25% is simply dumped on open sites, drainage channels, spread in rivers and valleys.

The waste has different sources, 76% is from households, 6% from street sweepings, 5% from industries 3% from hotels, 9% from commercial and other institutions and 1% from hospitals. When we see the physical composition of the waste, from the total generated waste 60% is organic which can be recycled into compost, 15% different recyclables and 25% others. The detailed  composition is 4.2% vegetables, 2.5% paper, 2.9% rubber/plastics, 2.3% wood, 1.1% bone, 2.4 textiles 0.9% metals, 0.5% glass, 15.1% combustible leaves, 2.5% non-combustible stone and 65% non-combustible stone and 65% all fine. (Source SBPDA, 2003).

The high amount of solid waste generated combined with the inefficient means of collection can also be an important source of pollution of the rivers since it leached and transported by runoff during the rainy season and ultimately ends up in the rivers. Further more, as solid waste is not segregated in to appropriate fractions during disposal (i.e., organic, chemical and other categories) there is a possibility for toxic compounds from households and other sources entering the rivers.


B. Liquid, Waste from Toilets and Open Urination Defecation Places

Domestic liquid waste from overflowing and seeping pit latrines septic tanks, public and communal toilets, open ground excreta defecation and gray water from kitchens and bath rooms are mixed with the Akaki rivers water.

The above-mentioned domestic wastes are causing severe water resource pollution problems especially to the down stream users of the little and great Akaki rivers. Liquid waste generated from the city is mainly disposed off through three different systems, i.e. centralized, pit latrine and open space urination and defecation. From the total population 12.4% use flush toilet, 57% use pit latrine and 30% have no facility at all(Addis Ababa EPB, 1999).

The first centralized sewage collection system was carried out in the late 1960s. It was designed for the collection and conveyance of wastewater to the treatment plant, which was located in Kaliti area and it is designed with an ultimate treatment capacity of 7500m3/day. The system has been designed for a peak flow of 540l/second, which corresponds to an equivalent population of 200,000 in habitats with an average wastewater production rate of 110 L/day. Although the proposed sewer system works have been already implemented and the system is already to operate with its full capacity, a few user connections of users (2% of the present population) in sewed areas have been realized.

According to a study  conducted by AAWSA an UNEP, 2000 flush toilet users connect their sewage system either to the centralized system, storm water drainage system or to separate septic tanks. Pit latrine users are estimated to be 57% of the total population among which 17% use private and 40% use shared and communal pit latrines. From the shared toilet facilities, about 40% are estimated to be in bad physical conditions and full-to-overflow.


C. Pit Latrines

Collection of pit latrine and septic tank sludge is also one of the urban services running at a very slow capacity. Not-all pit-latrine and septic tanks are emptied in time they were supposed to be emptied. Service seekers have to wait long time before they could get de-sledging services. Consequently, overflowing pit-latrines and septic tanks are seen in many parts of the city especially in the slum areas. Furthermore, many pit latrines in the slum areas are inaccessible to vacuum tankers. Either because there are no access roads or the roads are in bad physical conditions, hence toilets are left unattended for many years.

Currently tow plants are serving the city of Addis for the disposal of toilet wastes. These are located Kotebe and Kaliti. According to one of the AAWSA official informed by the time of the interview with the study team, the Kaliti disposal and treatment plant has a capacity of 7500m3/day sludge from sewer lines and 30,645 m3/day drying of beds. The Kaliti treatment plant receives only 7059.2m3/day from sewer lines and 859m3/day from disposal cars. The kotebe plant has a capacity of 30,000m3/day of drying beds. This suggests that the plants still have the capacity to handle more sludge if the collection capacity improves. The treatment essentially involves circulation of sewer in various ponds to a total of about 30 days, during which the level of BODs will fall below 5mg/l.

Thirty percent of the Addis Ababa dwellers have no toilet facility. These people defecate on in any open space especially at the riverbanks. The excreta can enter the Akaki river water by run off and the Akaki river could easily washes the excreta and is mixed with itself, since the place of defecation mostly on river banks.


D. Liquid Waste from Kitchens and Bathrooms

Waste water generated from domestic laundry units, washing of cooking and other domestic utensils is often discharged into near by water courses and steams through ditches; shallow-bore sewers or simply disposed off on available open grounds. Estimation on the domestic wastewater produced in Addis Ababa is approximately 100,000 per day (Mohammed, 2002). In one way or another it will drain into the Akaki rivers and contributes to the pollution of river water.


2.2.3 Medical/Clinical Source

Waste management and pollution of medical sources is an issue that should be looked upon from both a public health and an environmental point of view. Wastes from medical centers (like hospitals, out patient’s clinics and any other medical consultation, diagnosis of treatment), pose specific and sometimes-severe health hazards. For this reason it is important that medical sources wastes is managed separately from general solid wastes and the management systems are more strictly controlled. Wastes from such sources are of infectious wastes that can pollute water bodies.

Generally medical wastes are divided into two main categories; general (or non-clinical) wastes and medical (clinical) wastes. General or non-clinical wastes usually constitute between 75 and 90 percent of the total waste generated at medical centers. It includes office and kitchen waste. The remaining 10-25 percent of waste can be classified as medical waste, which presents the greatest health risk to humans. In most cases medical wastes are classified as infectious waste (laboratory cultures, wastes from isolation wards, tissues, and used dressings) and pathological waste. Medical waste includes (Body parts, human fetuses, placentas, blood, other body fluids) and sharps (needles, blades and broken glass) (WHO, 1988). The other medical waste is expired medicines; expired tablet and other medicine at present, there are over 24 hospitals under Addis Ababa city Administration. These hospitals are specialized general hospitals which are owned by the Ministry of Health, a higher education hospital (Black Lion Hospital), other government and private hospitals.

From the topography of the hospitals locations, it can be noticed that most of them are situated in the great Akaki watershed and the rest are in the little Akaki watersheds.

In most cases these hospital generate wastes from laboratory cultures, isolation wards tissues, used dressings, human fetuses, blood other body fluids, needles, and broken glasses.

Regarding their current status of waste management, especially on infectious waste management an assessment was conducted in July 2004 on four specialized hospitals by General Environmental Health, Department of Ministry of Health. The results of the study provide to indicate the sources of pollution of the tributary streams of the Akaki river are hospital wastes disposal sites.

According MOH, 2004, the infectious waste management system and hygiene practices of the specialized General Federal Hospitals assessments indicate that generally almost all of the surveyed hospitals directly or indirectly dispose their wastes in stream courses that are tributaries of either the little or the Great Akaki rivers.  Thus the infectious clinical wastes, chemical residues and detergents used for cleaning purposes enter the river and can result in serious environmental pollution problems faced mostly by the downstream dwellers.

Beside these hospitals, studies were made on Zewuditu, Yekaatit, Black Lion, Menelik, Blacha, police Hospital. The wastes destinations are identified to be streams. Though some of them have waste storage tanks, there are leakages and overflows in one way or another letting these infectious wastes to enter their near by or distant streams through sewerages as all have on on-site treatment schemes.


2.2.4 Agricultural Sources


For decades people living in the periphery of Addis Ababa city and along the Akaki river bank have been growing different vegetables and cereal crops. Hence use of pesticides and fertilizers could be major polluting agents for water bodies.

According to Addis Ababa FPB, 2002, diverting the little Akaki river water for growing horticultural crops mainly start in the middle attachments form the land plots found behind Emanuel Hospital. This horticulture farming activities are extended down stream all along plots of lands on the riverbank up to the farming fields found behind Kaliti town. Apart from the horticulture faming practices quite a number of farmers grow other agricultural crops on close or distant along the riverbank.

Pesticides and fertilizers are widely used by all farmers in the production of agricultural crops.  Thus there is high probability of leaching of pesticides and fertilizers residues into the Akaki river there by making the rivers more polluted.

The agricultural production system of Akaki Woreda is characterized by crop production dominated by mixed farming. Field observation and data from Woreda Agricultural Development Office indicates that farming plots by far exceed grazing areas showing the domination of crop cultivation. As the woreda nearer to urban centers, farmers have better access to agricultural chemicals and fertilizers and pesticides are widely used in the area. 

These chemicals can be washed and flow into the Akaki river especially during the rainy season. The existence of weed and algae over the water body of Abasamuel and rivers are the indicators of fertilizer access to the water. Apart form posing danger to the water ecosystem by dissolved oxygen and light, these chemicals could also be hazard to human and animal health. Nitrates, phosphates and other organic compounds are possible agricultural chemicals that could be environmental pollutants.


2.2.5 Chemicals

Chemicals have not only changed our lives for the better, but also created and increased threat to human beings, animals and the environment. Among these includes PoPs expand. According to a study conducted on the contaminated sites by EPA and UNIDO, (2005). There are sites contaminated by POPs and other chemicals, which could be a threat to the quality of Akaki river water. These chemicals include: PCBs, aldrin, copper, chromium, rsenic, and tetra chloroethylene.  PCBs, which are found in Goffa main store, are only 200 meters away from the little Akaki River.  The same survey pointed out that there is spillage of PCBs. Furthermore some 200 tones of copper, chromium, arsenic chemicals imported for timber treatments has been buried posing a very serious health hazard.  As aldrin is POPs chemicals and characterized by traveling long distances, the possibility of the aldrin contamination to Akaki river water from Kaliti AISE store is very high.

The use of Tetrachloroetylene in all dry cleaning laundries in the city is becoming a threat to the rivers because 1 liter out of 10 is discharged directly to open drainage lines and finally reaching the water bodies. There are also obsolete chemicals in different organizations stored out side and these can be easily washed away to these rivers. Generally speaking, chemicals pose a high threat to the pollution of the Akaki rivers water.


2.2.6 Fuel stations and Garage operations


 Petroleum including crude and refined petroleum is the major energy fuel of the world today. During the extract, trams, storage and distribution of various petroleum products, a considerable amount of oil could be lost in the environment. ponemi watste are  admittedly the most serous pollutants of oil because every minute , amounts of their chlorinated derivatives

cause objectionable taste and odor to water. Sources of waste oil in Addis Ababa city is Fuel stations, government and private garages and industries. Disposal of waste oil in the river or in an open field near to the rivers can contaminate the river water, ground water and the soil. The related wastes like waste water and mud from car washing and exhaust oil change (laviajo) also contaminate the water. Waste oil is categorized as a hazardous waste, which is dangerous for the life of living organisms as well as human beings. Therefore, due attention has to be given for these wastes, how to treat and dispose to the environment in proper way.

In Addis Ababa there are 20 Total, 22 Mobil, 46 Shell and a number of new NOC and YBP fuel stations. In most of the stations there are also lavabo and oil change services. Among the fuel stations, physical observation carried out on some. Mostly the wastewater from lavajo and garages is discharged through ditches and it ends up by reaching the streams found in the city of Addis Ababa.

Chapter Three; Studies


3.1 Previous studies on Akaki and Modjo Rivers


Water quality assessments conducted by different intuitions on the Akaki rivers and their tributaries as well as on the Modjor river are summarized as follows.

According to studies conducted by komolrit and Zauide (1974&1976 as sited in EPA 2005) some 3 decades ago lake water from Aba Samuel reservoir was found suitable for treatment to produce potable water (it was only bacterially contaminated ( refer to annex and tables 1a,1b,1c ed  )

How ever the little and great Akaki rivers and their tributaries which pass through the city of Addis Ababa were unsuitable for drinking, irrigation, livestock watering or amenity uses without extensive prior treatments as they were grossly polluted by physical , chemical and bacterially contaminants (refer to annex and tables 1a,1b,1c ed  )  

The 1974-water quality studies (as initiated in EVDSA1987) indicate that up stream of Addis Ababa were only slightly polluted by pollutants of domestic origin as expected, but  the streams entered the city of Addis Ababa they were found dramatically deteriorated where they resemble of typical raw domestic sewerages and industrial effluents. As a result oxygen within the streams was virtually totally depleted resulting in simplicity and anaerobic decay that further compounded by an extensive use of the streams as public lavatory by many tens of thousands of people (refer to annex and tables 1a,1b,1c ed  )

By 1976 as sited in EPA study report 2005, 40% of the industrial plants studied were said to have some form of treatment facilities. However in most cases those facilities were under sized and frequently inoperable and their main function appeared to have been obtaining of necessary permits to build the factory rather than to avoid environmental pollution.

Thus at that time, some 26 industries were found having significant quality impacts on their waters whereas 70 and 30 percent of them were discharging their untreated wastes respectively in to the little and the great Akaki rivers or their tributaries. As a result the little Akaki river is a dead river to all intents and purposes. Although the situation for the great Akaki River was marginally better it was not satisfying the physical, chemical and bacteriological requirements for water supply or any form of water contact and migration.


3.2 Findings from Current Assessment 

The current water quality assessments in the Akaki and Major rivers catchments that will indicate the physical, chemical and bacteriological characteristics of the water bodies are now presented annexed with to this report (please refer to refer to annex and tables 1a,1b,1c  )

 Comparison of current assessments with previous studies indicates that soluble salt loads such as sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfate showed 4-15 fold concentration increments with in the timeframe of years.  Parameters which usually indicate the level of pollution in water bodies such as ammonia; nitrate and phosphate also showed 10-15, 4-6 & 20-60 fold increments respectively. Iron and manganese concentration also exhibits 3-40 fold concentration increments within the same period. More over by 2001 all streams and rivers that flow across the center of Addis were found completely an aerobic and therefore it seems safe to guess that those rivers are now unlikely to support fresh water faunas and floras, except the one adopted to survive under harsh environmental conditions.

Parameters of pollution indicators also yield results in amount 2-3 fold compared to what was observed in the early 1990’s.

The Bacteriological analysis of current assessments (Jan. 2006) has also shown over three fold increments as compared to previous studies conducted in late 1980’s and mid 1990’s. Most of the parameters are by far higher than WHO standards of 1987 (refer to annex and tables 1a, 1b, 1c lab results with comparison).


3.2.1 River Water use Patterns and its Implications

The little and the great Akaki rivers and their tributaries as well as the Modjo river have been and still are providing a range of services including irrigation, livestock watering, waste disposal sites of both industrial and municipal in origin and even for bathing, washing, drinking and food preparation mainly in the rural areas. More details are provided in the following sub-sections.


A.   Waste Disposal Services

Wastes generated by a number of industries (>480) and municipal and domestic wastes are ultimately ending up into the little and the great Akaki rivers. Previous studies indicate that these wastes are likely to contain oxygen demanding organic wastes, heavy metals of health significant, disease causing agents, inorganic chemicals and plant contaminants, synthetic organic compounds, pesticides and herbicides sediments, thermal discharges, oils and greases and even some radioactive substances. 

All these facts make the little and great Akaki rivers and their tributaries “lifeless’ and they are not only totally unfit for any water use patterns. Including the ecological (environmental function,) their water is very dangerous to be used for human consumption, livestock and even for irrigation. This is because the total pollution loads are extremely beyond the natural capabilities of the streams to disperse, decompose and assimilate the waste. A Similar situation is also prevalent in major river segments downstream of major towns where they start to pickup industrial effluents and run off from agricultural fields. 

Actually site visits made in January 2006 were also inline with the general statements made above, since all streams and river segments within Addis Ababa practically look like a pure sewerages lines rather than natural river courses. The situation is now also growing worse for major river segments downstream of major towns.

The unsanitary and unhygienic living conditions in the city of Addis Ababa and in town of Modjo in general the filed up waste loads in the Akaki and the major river courses in particular is in direct contradiction of the basic rights of citizens provided in the national Constitution of Ethiopia.

Therefore to create cleaner living environment in Addis and to give back life to those polluted rivers and gain the expected social–economic benefits from them the tasks to be done and commitment, required by 6 different stakeholders is very immense but achievable. The likely stakeholders for the issue include the Addis Ababa City Administration and its functional units, Industries located within the river catchments, environmental protection authorities, city residents, human rights advocates, the affected communities, NGOs, civil organizations, and the federal government.


B. Human Consumption Services

Water qualities criteria for human consumption can in general terms be stated by aesthetic qualities, inorganic and organic constituents of health significance. There are parameter that may give rise complains from consumers such as test and odor high color and turbidity Volumes temperature and low dissolved oxygen contents. Chloride and sulfate contents, iron and manganese, ammonia and sodium concentrations and the like. Although some parameters like chloride, sulfate, sodium and the like are found within the limits set by WHO (DWOG WHD 1985) all streams and rivers within the study area were found to spreading extremely offending smells which make the water totally unfit for human consumption. The concentration of manganese is also found exceeding the recommended WHO guideline values.


C. Parameter of Health Significant

Chemicals of health significance in water used for drinking and other domestic purposes include inorganic constituents, organic compounds, chlorinated hydrocarbons, disinfectants and their by products and others. Organic constituents like Chlorinated hydrocarbon and disinfectants and disinfectant by products are shown to induce cancer in human beings as well as in livestock (EDWQ Guidelines, 2002).  Inorganic constituents (As, Ba, B, Cd, Cr, Cu, CN, F Pb, Mn, Hg, No3, No2, se) can also jeopardize human health whenever they are injected in amount exceeding a certain threshold level. Among the possible health effects, the major ones caused by these inorganic constituents include gastrointestinal irritation (B, Cu, No3) possibility of skin and other types of  cancers, (As, Cr, No3 No2), toxicity to kidney (Dc, Hg) and liver (Cu, se), damaging the function of the central and peripheral nervous system (Cn, Pb, Mn, Hg) as well as increased blood pressure and suspect of cardiovascular disease (Bo) From the  studies previously conducted as well as the present  assessment on  the sources of  pollutants to the akaki and the Modjo rivers it is very likely that parameters of health significance can be found in those river waters in substantial amounts to that impair health status of  humans  either through consumptive uses or any form of water contacts or through accumulation among the food grains or any combination of two or more of these causes the pollution.


D. Bacteriological Parameters

Previous bacteriological analysis conducted on the little and the Great Akaki rivers indicate that they are grossly polluted by pathogenic organisms (Colisform counts in the 1990’s were in the order of 4000 – to many to count where the minimum values were registered at up stream areas and  Absmule reservoir out let): The current assessments is also not only confirm the results of previous studies but also shows that the level of pollution is on the increase (colirorm counts increased significantly). Bacteriological contaminated water source can impose both acute and chronic health risks to humans whenever they are injected or get in contact with humans.


E. Livestock Watering

High saline water (EC>500 Ns/cm or TDS.300mg/e) may induce physiological upset or even death in livestock. The main reported effect due to high total salt loads is depression of appetite, diarrhea and scouring, lactating cows, young and weak animals are usually more susceptible to heavy saline water. More over dry weak animals without high protein supplementary feeds and the usual green pastures living on dry climactic condition, the salinity tolerance may be reduced due to the lower moisture contents of the field to counter balance the salt effect.

Since the total salt loads in the Akaki and the major rivers are found within recommended limits, the most important issue here is the presence of toxic ions of heavy metals , boron, nitrite and nitrate, fluoride, organic wastes , pathogenic organisms, herbicides and pesticides as well as their residues because  all these toxicants and salts may directly be toxic to the animal or cause the water to be unpalatable or they may accumulate in the animal tissue so that making their edible product unsafe or unfit for human consumption.

Toxicity problems will become more significant and life threatening to both human and livestock when the forage (grass or crop residues) used is also irrigated with the same potentially toxic water.

The forage or plant so irrigated will take up the salts or toxicants, raising the toxicity risks to animals; when both the source of feed and water combine to exceed the critical levels. This is a real cause observed in the Akaki and the  major rivers catchments by  studies conducted in late 1990’s (Fisseha Itanna, 1998) or vegetable leaves clearly indicate that most of the heavy metals are found at elevated concentration compared to the concentration found under normal conditions. The extremely heavy metal pollution and suspected substantial loads of pesticides and herbicides in those rivers are also a serious threat to livestock’s health and their productivities. And hence the problems in the said areas are now critical and they call for a serious attention from parties concerned in mitigating the role of these current problems and in avoiding the problem all together in medium - to longer term time frames.


F. Irrigation Service 

Irrigation practices in the Akaki and the major rivers catchments have been operational for well over three decades. The total land areas under irrigation are in the order of thousands mainly using polluted water sources from these rivers. The water quality problem related to total salt loads, soil infiltration problem, specific ion toxicities and miscellaneous effects, of all problems specific ion toxicities and miscellaneous effects are more important for the case in point.

Toxicity to plants from irrigation water or soil or both is usually associated with chloride, sodium born and other heavy metals as well as some miscellaneous effects, The degree of damage by toxicant ions is dependent on time of exposure, concentration of toxicant, crop sensitivity and crop water use patterns. Toxic damage can be caused by each ion individually or in combination and when the damage is severe, crop yield may be reduced or stunted  of the final product will be rendered unsuitable for consumption or even dangerous to health.

Previous studies and current assessment indicate that the concentrations of sodium chloride, nitrate, manganese, bicarbonate ions are generally found in a range unsuitable and toxic to most of the sensitive crops where they may cause either specific toxicity or delayed or uneven maturity or mottling on leaves, flowers and fruits. The other heavy metals toxic to plants at their elevated concentration were also found at concentration approaching to their upper limits set by FAO for irrigation uses.

Moreover maximum concentration limits for most trace elements are set usually to protect the soil resources from being polluted and eventually be come unusable for any crop growths. In other words most trace elements have a tendency to be readily fixed and accumulated in the soils and since this process is largely irreversible repeated application of amounts in excess of plants needs eventually contaminate the soil and may either render it non-productive or the product unusable.

In summary irrigation practices in the Akaki and the Modjo rivers catchments are now based on polluted water application on an already polluted soil. The final products of either vegetables or forages while grows on those lands are unlikely to be safe for both human and livestock consumption. More over the edible parts of flesh or milk obtained from livestock’s in those localities may also contain an elevated concentration of toxic ions. As a result, pollution effects on the Akaki and the Modjo rivers catchments are not restricted only to communities residing in those areas but also extend into major market centers like Addis Ababa and Nazareth.


3.2.2 Issues of Grave Concern

The Akaki and the Modjo surface waters (rivers and streams) support important aquatic ecosystems that sustain a diverse range of plants and animals and supply drinking water for most of the rural communities living along the river banks estimated at 150-200,000 populations (Projection from the Census). They also sustain much of irrigated agriculture, manufacturing, and food processing and construction industries and had potential to provide a focus for water-based recreational activities and eco-tourism. 

The pollution of rivers and streams and reduced stream flow have affected in an adverse manner. Major pollution stresses are evident in the catchments areas of the major surface waters: the River Akaki and the Modjo and their tributaries and steams are highly polluted.

Akaki’s groundwater resources are also critical to the City of Addis Ababa since it is contributing 30% of the city’s water supply, providing social, economic and environmental benefits. Groundwater close to the surface is generally the most exposed to the risk of pollution. Local pollution from industrial discharges and spills can introduce contaminants, pesticides, heavy metals and organic pollutants that may seriously degrade groundwater quality.


3.2.3 Water Quality Characteristics

Some heavy metals such as zinc and copper are important in small quantities for biological processes in aquatic plants and animals and occur naturally in many river systems. However, when they are discharged in large quantities from sewage or industrial or agricultural run-off, they can be extremely harmful. Heavy metals can accumulate in sediments. Some heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium can move up in the food chain and into human food sources.

Algae (or phytoplankton) are naturally occurring aquatic organisms and important components of a healthy ecosystem. Their presence in large numbers, however, can cause problems and are known to have caused death in cattle and horses and have also caused illness in humans. High nutrient levels can stimulate algal blooms.

Faecal coliforms are bacteria found in large numbers in the faecal matter of warm-blooded animals such as livestock and humans. Their levels can make water unsafe for swimming in and drinking.

Clarity refers to the cloudiness, or turbidity, of the water. It is influenced by the concentration of suspended clay, silt and fine particles of organic and inorganic matter. High turbidity can adversely affect plant growth and the survival of some aquatic animals

The major contaminants found in surface and ground waters are nitrogen (nitrate and nitrite) and phosphorus. Major sources of these contaminants include sewage treatment works, industrial activities, intensive agricultural activities and storm water run-off from urban areas. High nutrient levels can deplete the water of oxygen and affects aquatic life.


3.3 Impact and Linkages of Deteriorating Water Quality

Some of health, environmental, social and economic effects associated with deteriorating water quality are outlined below to illustrate the broader significance of pollution impact.

3.3.1 Drinking water shortage.

Deteriorating water quality in the River Akaki and Modjo is causing serious shortage of drinking water and water for domestic consumption the situation is still to get worse as pollution levels are expected to get rise over the years to come. This in turn will have health, social and economic and environmental implications, particularly for communities downstream of Akaki and Modjo rivers, which relies heavily on these Rivers water supplies.


3.3.2 Impact On and Risks to human health.

There is a visible impact on the health status of the community living and using polluted water from the Akaki and the Modjo rivers and potential risks are also mounting through time. The Akaki and the Modjo river water is contaminated with disease-causing microorganisms and toxic substances (refer to lab results). Human health may also be jeopardized by high levels of toxic blue-green algae, which grow in response to high contamination. 

The current assessment and previous studies clearly confirm that all settlers around the two river basins who are using the river water are affected and suffer from ill health status because water pollution related conditions. Stomach upsets diarrhea, skin rashes, respiratory problems such as asthma and nervous system disorders are very common as described by residents and from information of health workers given in the interviews, as well as from findings during clinical evaluation of selected suspected cases in the areas.

During community consultation we were told a story that a child from Dewera Tino swallowed condom and died before two years. Another child was also having lesion around his mouth after blowing and playing with condoms which he got in a filed. People associate the high maternal and child mortality compared to other areas with access to safe water, with polluted river water consumption. Fear of getting HIV/AIDS was also mentioned as polluted river brings condoms and other clinical devices, and thus had greatly affected the psychology of the residents. Scabies, eye infection associated with scares and unsafe water use are very common in the area.( presented the picture of a child during filed visit).


3.3.3 Implication on Quality of Life

The loss of productive farms and farmlands is of high concern. It has the following impacts on quality of life for people living around these rivers.

·     Aesthetics: - River banks and near by farms around open space provides access to views and pleasing sights. Hence their loss is often irrecoverable and people are subjected to loss this nature gifted opportunity.

·         Loss of Sense of Community Fairness and Peace of Mind.

In addition to their value to farmers, farms are a community resources providing opportunities for children to learn about nature how is produced etc Appreciations of nature maintenance of a relationship between the natural world and the human community are part of countryside life and identity. The loss of farms greatly affects farmers and businesses dependent upon agriculture. Their way of life is disappearing. The presence of clean environment provides a reassuring connection to communities who lived around these rivers, identify and sense of place. They also provide food security.

 3.3.4 Impacts on Animal Health

From the FGDs it was evident that animals’ health is frequently affected after consuming the rivers water.  Sick animals showed symptoms like gastrointestinal disorders and upset with dysentery followed by tremor and paralysis.  Edematous swelling, dermatitis and loss of hair were also reported. Some of the symptoms are similar and could be caused by poisoning of toxic substances specially due to nitrate/nitrite poisoning. Water with high nitrate level and significant coli form concentration has greater potential to adversely affect health and lower productivity.

The situation is further aggravated by the physical characteristics of the river water like offensive odors and taste, so that animals are discouraged to consume water on a regular basis until they get very thirsty. Thirsty animals consumed high volume of water together with substantial amount of pollutants that could result in risking their health and life.

During our site visits we could wittiness that river banks are completely covered with pieces of plastic bags that could be easily ingested and swallowed by house animals with grass, this in turn could block the intestine of animals leading them to death. The respondents in each peasant associations have indicated that getting plastic bags in the intestine of slaughtered animals is a common phenomenon that aggravates animal deaths. According to FGD participants from the Akai and  the Modjo river downstream areas about 80-120, animals die every year due to  the Akaki river pollution related problems in a peasant association have a serious economic impact on farmers. (Sample study analysis on economical impact is annexed as annex 7).


3.3.5 Impact on Education

Evidence collected from the respondents revealed that the health problems due to polluted river water is more pronounced effect on children of school age have negative impact on their school attendance and educational performance. Frequent absence due to sickness was reported from Dodota and Chiri, Abu sera, Abu Gerbi and Dewra Tino schools.

Common sicknesses that affected children as reported are stomach upset, diarrhea and respiratory tract infection that have direct relationship with contaminated water consumption and its foul odor as stated by participants.

According to Abu Sera and Dewera Tink Clinics feedback also confirms that water borne diseases are a serious problem of the sites. Diseases like amoeba, giardia, typhoid and respiratory problems like asthma were frequently diagnosed among sick rural communities. 


3.3.6 Impact on Productivity and Income (Livelihood)

Communities’ income depended from various sources from farming, cattle rising vegetable growing and to some extent from fishing and growing plants and vegetation wild and aquatic life etc… This opportunity is increasingly diminishing around A kaki and Modjo Rivers.

The status of ill health caused by the unfortunate circumstances has been affecting people’s productivity in the form of reduced working time and days because of illness, and increased cost for health care. The use of irrigation water that has high pollution levels can affect horticultural and agricultural productivity by affecting plant and soil health, which in turn puts the general consumer at risk of getting, contaminated food supplies. (Sample case study on medical expenditure is annexed)


3.3.7 Impact on Future Generations.

The loss of farms and productive farmland is a loss of future generations who will no longer have access to farm resources or farm experiences. It is also contribution to loss of future nations. Akaki and Modjo are large agricultural areas where young people say that they are most likely to move away living these areas because of uncertainty and loss of hope and futurity partially attributed to the state of affairs associated with environmental degradation.


3.3.8 Implications on Biodiversity and Ecology.

Declining water quality will have an impact on the health of aquatic plant and animal communities, particularly pollution from heavy metals, high contaminants and salinity levels and toxic blue-green algae. The team observed dead and remnant bodies of fish at Aba-Samuel dam .The survey also revealed that there are dead bees and crop production stunted as cross- pollination activities being affected. In a nutshell, such polluted water may affect the survival of flora and fauna as a result of destruction of the river’s ecosystems. Respondents indicated that, they had observed dead birds, monkeys, fish and insects as common phenomena. In addition to toxicity, water turbidity was quiet high and consequently become inconvenient for fish breeding. In this case fishes were coming out of water and dying or attacked by predators.

3.3.9 Implications for Recreation and Tourism.

Rural people and people living along river banks have traditionally by virtue of their position allowed access to these rivers not only for drinking and domestic consumption but also for swimming washing and at older times for hunting, they also provide habitat for wildlife such as deer.

Polluted water bodies jeopardize recreation and eco-tourism activities. Poor water clarity can pose a danger to swimming in the River due to poor visibility. The Akaki and the Modjo rivers have also of great cultural and spiritual importance to the Indigenous people. The threats to their health are discouraging these activities. People cannot swim and enjoy the river water as they used to do during Timket, Errach traditional ritual ceremonies because of the status of river water as stated by some of the elders. The folly smell and the waste garbage around the river banks is very discouraging to visit the area.

Chapter Four;

Conclusion and Recommendations


4.1 Conclusion

The Little and the Great Akaki rivers and their tributaries as well as Modjo river specially downstream of Modjo town are now the most polluted water bodies by any standards. They have been polluted for well over four decades and still they are receiving untreated industrial effluents municipal and domestic discharges, clinical and other miscellaneous wastes. As a result they now resemble sewage lines rather than natural rivers that could render a variety of important services such as washing and bathing, livestock watering, irrigation, recreation a variety of ecological services and domestic water supply.

From the study, the following observations have been concluded;

1.    Highly contaminated and polluted water is not only unfit for consumption but also very dangerous to use.

2.    They are totally unfit for livestock watering since they contain many toxic elements as well as a multitude of pathogenic organisms and hence they are dangerous to the animals themselves and the animal’s flesh or milk or both will also be dangerous for consumption.

3.    They are also unfit for irrigation since the final products may contain a number of toxic elements and pathogenic organism dangerous to human and livestock health. They are also hazardous for field workers {irrigators} since skin water contact will allow toxicants and diseases causing organisms to enter the body system. Moreover the polluted water could also induce toxicants {particularly heavy metals} which gradually accumulate on the irrigated fields and eventually lead the recipient soil unproductive or unable to support any crop growths. This was already observed at Akaki and Modjo irrigated fields.

4.    The rivers water is also unfit for Horticulture since it will create visible and permanent mottling on leaves and flowers. This effect is in addition to the toxicity effects common to all plant grown under irrigation. Although there is tolerance differences among pervious studies also indicate that not only the polluted rivers and storm drains that is get contaminated with coliform bacteria {pathogenic organisms} but also the deep boreholes in Addis and its environs. As a result the ground water resources in these areas now at a higher risk of pollution and pretty soon they will not be potable without prior treatments.


4.2       Recommendations

Generally, the scale and rate of pollution in the little and the great Akaki rivers and their tributaries as well the as Modjo river is extremely severe with immeasurable high negative social and economic consequences.

If the problem is left unchecked sooner or later it could potentially be a source of disagreement and conflict of divers dimension including of political nature between and among regions, City Administrations and community groups at various levels. Against this background and based on the conclusions made by the assessment as well the seriousness of the situation It is highly advisable, to consider a number of short and long term measures that require urgent attention by all concerned and responsible bodies are immanent .  

4.2.1 General Measures


All existing and upcoming industries should not be allowed by any means to discharge untreated industrial effluents info the surrounding environment, soil or water or air City Administration and its functional units should properly carry out their responsibilities in collection and safe disposal of all solid and liquid waste as well as in controlling these activities.

Environmental protection authorities and agencies at each level in their hierarchies should properly execute their duties and responsibilities given by law The Pollution Protection Measure Should Cover a Range of Regulatory Measures Including:

·         Setting of environmental values for water quality and reinforcing regulatory mechanisms for rivers water protection in general through out the country. The Authorities should provide priority and pay particular attention to the Akaki and the Modjo rivers by considering the seriousness of pollution problems of these rivers.

·         Establish codes of practice that will describe best practice environmental management for particular activities;

·         Mandatory provisions to ensure that essential practices are met;

·         Provisions for setting discharge limits and controls on the discharge of listed pollutants

·         Establish environmental standards specified to each particular situation by closely linking to them national strategy. Establishing Catchments Water Management Bodies by involving all relevant bodies and actors and the local community in the management of water resources. One of the functionaries of catchments Water Management Bodies should be the preparation of catchments water management plans, in consultation with the community, that outline actions and strategies to improve the quality and management of water resources.  

·         Emphasize on community partnerships to achieve on-ground results.

·         Monitoring regularly water resource by EPA at least convey six-monthly basis depending upon the nature of the water resource and the characteristic being monitored.

·         Make available data and information by establishing an environmental database that could be used to determine trends over time, support to management decisions and to monitor the effectiveness of management strategies.

·         Provide guidelines for industry and others for best Codes environmental management practice for their specific activities:

·         Pollution Prevention for the community;

·         Pollution Prevention for Government;

·         Pollution prevention for the building and construction industry.

·         Promote coordinating committee at non-governmental and governmental, private companies and enterprises in pollution monitoring and reporting.

·         Establish Coordinating Committee at local levels and beyond to address pollution issues and to integrate monitoring programs between agencies to maximize cost effectiveness.

·         To urgently set a timetable to stop the discharge into rivers and streams is progressively being phased out. Also One hundred per cent of the treated wastewater produced from industries and other sources.

·         Civic organizations NGOS human rights advocators etc also work together in creating awareness among the officials and policy makers the pollution emitters of organizations and individuals, the effected communities, the implementing agencies as well as the communities at large. They can also play a coordinating role in creating a pressure group when ever, the responsible authorities or institution or individual’s arte not properly executing their duties and responsibilities as expected.


4.2.1 Urgent Mitigation Measures

Urgent mitigation measures should also should be taken top help allocate the critical problems of the affected communities among others:

·          Provision of possible water supply for humans and livestock) that will give to all functional breathing space until the problem will be solved altogether.

·         Possible alternative income means should be considered as a priority to be considered for the community under consideration.


No more trash, No to dumping toxic waste on our land.

Uummanni qillee, gawwaasa, hambisaa ficabbii bilbila keenya cufannee wal gahii hin seennu Xuraawan nurratti hin gatamu jedhanii yommuu didan. Bakar shaalee fi Dirribaa kumaa . Galma dargaggoo fi isportii Laga Xaafotti



                                                              Copyright ©2008 GPO/OPC Allrights Reserved