On March 21st, 2022, State Minister Dr. Abraha Adugna, Ministry of Water and Energy, and the Netherlands Embassy Rep. in Addis Ababa 1st Secretary, Senior Policy Officer for Water, Jelmer van Veen, visited the water and soil conservation site surrounding the Dire water reservoir. The purpose of the visit was to observe the implementation of Soil and Water conservation activities under the IWRM4WASH project executed under VEI leadership. The water and soil activities are implemented to prevent the silting of the largest two dams of Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority (AAWSA) and to improve the livelihood of the community around the reservoir and to provide WASH facilities to the community.
The visit started with a quick briefing from VEI team regarding the development of the site, and the advancement it is making. This helped the visitors understand the evolution of the project site, starting from the beginning. State Minister Dr. Abreha witnessed spirited and energetic activities of the communities taking place at the project site. Following the field visit, the visit was directed towards the tree seedling site, prepared by the community to help sustain the terracing efforts and planting livelihood supporting fruit trees.
The guests impressed with the visit, the community had even more surprise installed for them! The community celebrated their arrival, with elder blessings the event with a coffee ceremony. The visitors were truly impressed, by the level of hospitality and expressed their utmost respect and kindness. With a festive entrance, the community fathers, mothers, and children all gathered around the area, to show their appreciations. To share their personal perspectives, the representatives gave their speeches, after the elders of the community gave their blessings in their own mother tongues.
“on behalf of this community, I wish to welcome H.E State Minister Dr. Abreha and all representatives to our community. We are delighted to see such an important and effective actions towards our small community, and we hope we will see this type of visit throughout the life span of this project. I wish to also remind the community to consider this project as their own which will help their livelihood improved. You will be able to work on your farmland better and have even better yields. Therefore, please make sure to listen to the guidance of the VEI team leads and the rest of the teams that are here to support you.” stated Mr. Ashene, Chief Administrator of Berek Woreda.
“thank you for the usual warm welcome and the blessings of the elders! Ever since, I set foot to this place, I have only experienced your love, kindness and support during all the past visits to this project site. I would also like to thank you, Dr. Abreha for being here with us to grace the event and all the governmental administrators and VEI project leaders on the ground. I also want to thank, the major stakeholder to this project AAWSA, Oromia Water and Energy Development Bureau and the Netherlands Embassy in Addis Ababa for making this possible.
VEI is working at the higher level, with multiple stakeholders to create the necessary enabling environment for change. To complement institutional change, at the local community level, the project will support WASH initiatives along with the IWRM intervention with the aim of both demonstrating IWRM and alternative livelihood at local level and building trust and capacity. We will support you to plant fruit trees and fuelwood species to combine both land and riverbank restoration and livelihood benefits. Rehabilitation of a small, off-stream masonry dam will soon be constructed to capture water for small-scale irrigation and dry season cropping and water for your livestock. In addition, the construction and/or rehabilitation of spring wells in your village is currently underway. VEI is more than happy to always come back and support to see your lives are changed for the better.” noted Daniel Truneh, VEI Representative in Ethiopia.
“I am very grateful and humbled by the warm welcome. It is truly remarkable to see a small community like yours taking the bull by the horn, working hard to make changes with its own hands. Supportive organization like VEI and the Embassy of Netherlands in Addis Ababa are good examples of making a difference from the bottom up. I am delighted to witness the energy, the spirit and speed in which you are working. The achievements are visible and admirable.
I consider VEI’s approach as a new way forward for operationalizing IWRM as an adaptive strategy for change combining four basic strategies: First, high-level policy and strategy setting to put in place, through dialogue and negotiation between key sectors and stakeholders, agreed, high-level priorities and goals for water resource development and management. This create the means for sectors and stakeholders to come together to negotiate and to work dynamically on integration, guided by high-level strategy but focused on action. Second, VEI is engaged in pragmatic problem solving that complements strategy setting, to meet stakeholder priorities at all levels, related for example to local water services, to water infrastructure or to ecosystem and landscape restoration, community livelihood improvements and the provision of WASH services. This delivers early wins, serves to empower stakeholders to take action and strengthen higher-level reform processes. Third, operating mechanisms are in place that bridge strategy setting and problem solving. Fourth, the Ministry in addition to technology transfer and policy making, is keen to support the monitoring of progress and achievement of goals and targets, to provide and mobilize data and information that builds transparency, trust and accountability.
This project is an illustration, how communities seeking for transformation, when receiving the right type of support, can make a difference. On my way up to this site, I have witnessed down- stream communities, inspired by your activities, working on soil and water conservation. A clear case of impact and very inspiring. The Ministry will work closely with you, VEI and the Netherlands Embassy in Addis Ababa to adapt technologies and management strategies tested in other areas to your specific situation in the catchment area and to implement them successfully. This is to ensure the transferability of the technologies and methods. So please continue with your hard work, and whenever you need support, the Ministry will be on your side,” noted the State Minister Dr. Abraha Adugna.
“Thank you for the warm reception, the demand for water, for agriculture, drinking water and industry, is exceeding the water supply more and more for years. The conflicts of use arising from inconsistent and non-transparent water allocation could lead to a dispute. It is therefore praiseworthy to witness VEI and its partners, AAWSA and Oromia Water and Energy Development Bureau launched this project on integrated water resource management with the aim of developing sustainable water management for the Dire catchment area and improving the livelihood of your community, as well providing WASH services. lessons must be learned and used to operationalize IWRM and to accelerate progress. If there is a litmus test for the effectiveness of IWRM, it is that IWRM must lead to change. IWRM must make change in water management in complex social and political contexts manageable.
Finally, the last time I was here, Mr Solomon (VEI team lead) told us, that he will be working on the terraces”, I personally thought, I will be seeing one or half of it done by the two weeks difference. I was surprised to see six terrace beds already done! I am very happy to see the communities are taking their fate in their own hands and VEI managing the implementation” noted Jelmer van Veen, 1st Secretary, Senior Policy Officer for Water.
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Nebiyu Getachew (PM) briefs, State Minister Dr. Abraha Adugna and Strategic adviser of the Netherlands Embassy, Wim Klaassen.