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Saturday, 19 April 2008

Addis Ababa's drainage and sewage problem

Tedla Asfaw
I grew in Addis Ababa and know  the sewage and drainage problem my city had then  twenty years ago when the population was a little more than a million and now this number is tripled without proper infrastructure to handle the growing population.
When I sent my six years old son with his mom to see hid grand father in summer of 2001 I got the first answer to my question regarding infrastructure at local level.
How is my father toilet, I asked my wife? The answer was "we flush the toilet and the water is not going any where" and it was a nightmare for the little boy. I know my father house has a septic tank like many houses in Addis where all the sewage settled and  is removed once in a while.
Our septic tank was built on clay soil common in Addis neighborhoods which is very elastic and cracks in dry season.The septic tank which is almost sixty years old might have deteriorated by now and it is no longer giving its service and as we know  there is no central sewage system in most of Addis to switch to. 
The sewage infrastructure as was mentioned on Ato Getachew Belaineh's well written article posted on is nonexistent in Addis and it seems to me without that whatever new buildings are erected is just like clapping in one hand.
Ato Getachew also mention the sediment build up as a result of deforestation in Addis surroundings is also going to ruin whatever big roads built and all the public money invested in building new roads without taking care of the sedimentation problem is a disaster.
International organization who give loans to the infrastructure development I wonder why they did not make a prerequisite to develop sewage and drainage  structures that is compatible to the new development.
The bottom line for any development is also  participation of local communities at every stage of planning which is not the case in Addis Ababa.
Addis Ababeans were denied democratically elected councils in 2005 and TPLF after three years is now ready to put its own people back again and these new administrators  will not care for the millions of Addis Ababeans and the  seventeen years of their control of Addis is a dismal failure.
Addis Ababa which means New Flower has got new name by the Forbes magazine as the the six dirtiest city in the world.
All the new buildings and big roads that were built in the last seventeen years did not hide the fact that the city has no basic sewage and drainage system which is the requirement for a healthy city.
The current regime's polices are to make fast money and care less for the future of Ethiopia or its cities and the image of our cities for some who come after short visit are new buildings that rise in different neighborhoods.
However, for some good observers like Ato Getachew who truly cares for their people and cities that was not the case. 
Addis and most cities in Ethiopia are like  New York or London, forty or fifty years ago in their water and sewage development and to change that we need city administrations accountable to the people and the government which is investing for the future.