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Pastoralist water security: a learning seminar

Published on: 23/10/2018

This seminar - held at the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa on 25 October 2018 - shared innovative research from the WEEP project on measuring water security in the Ethiopian lowlands. This drew on the study of emotions by the WEEP project team (Cranfield University, Oxfam, IRC WASH, IWMI and the Friendship Support Association) to ask pastoralists focused questions related to their local context. The seminar brought together decision makers, researchers and practitioners who provided feedback on the research. It was the first event to share draft results from the activity (see presentation for download below).

The lowlands of Ethiopia - in Afar, Somali, and parts of Oromia and SNNP regions - are home to populations with the highest levels of poverty in the country. Levels of safe water access for homes and institutions (schools and health institutions) are the lowest in the country. Pastoralist communities in the lowlands also rely upon water for livestock as much as domestic supplies. Recurrent droughts that are part of a harsh climate, and frequent outbreaks of water related disease frequently trigger emergency responses. The cost of water trucking in these regions is a major drain on national finances and development partners.

Major development initiatives in the region have focused on irrigated agricultural development and settlement of pastoralist communities. The Climate Resilient WASH programme launched at the end of 2017 and expected to start in 2018, seeks to transform the provision of water services in the lowlands. CR-WASH promotes major investments in the utilisation of deep aquifers, multi-village piped water supplies and the professionalization of maintenance and management of water supply schemes for people and livestock. Annual investments in CR-WASH are expected to exceed the total entire current investments in WASH for the whole country.

In this context, understanding water security for pastoralists is of critical importance. Current tools in use for measuring progress in WASH are not always well adapted to the Lowland context. The WEEP team has developed innovative ideas to measure water security and insecurity based on the study of emotions.