October 22, 2021

Alemgena: A thirst district lying on the bed of springs

City: Addis AbabaEconomySociety

Alemgena neighborhood, which spends 6 consecutive months or more without water, is surrounded by 6 bottled water factories and various industries.

Avatar: Nigist Berta
By Nigist Berta

Nigist is a senior reporter and content creator at Addis Zeybe, who is experienced in journalism and who explores her passion for storytelling.

Alemgena: A thirst district lying on the bed of springs

"We see tap water flowing into our village once every six months. Residents who can afford might buy water in their day-to-day life whereas those who can't afford manage to fetch from wells and springs far from their home. The government is not heeding our complaints, despite redundant trials. We are now getting used to the problem,” says Dagim Tesfaye, resident of a place commonly known as Alemgena in a saddened tone.

Other dwellers of the area have also expressed their concerns to Addis Zeybe. They said that “the shortage of water has forced them to incur extra costs. Finding a close source of water is very tiresome”.

Emebet Tolosa, a mother in her mid-fifties, is one of the area’s residents suffering the problem. She says she has been using unpalatable water for a long period of time due to the shortage of safe drinking water, and that her cattle are hurting from thirst due to the lack of water near her home, which in turn is making her life difficult since the cattle are the source of income for her families.

It is astonishing to see that the Alemgena neighborhood, which spends six consecutive months or more without water, is surrounded by 6 bottled water factories and various industries. 

It is comprehensible that the groundwater level is not low, as the water factories are using an ample amount of water that caters to their production demand and supply a significant share of bottled water products to the market. Among the factories are Yes Water, Sheger Water, and One Water.

On the other hand, according to the information we received from the locals, one of the water factories, Yes Spring Water, seems to solve the social problem by selling water to the locals at low prices making them take the water with their own containers. Double Super T, the factory that produces paint and water tankers, in its part, serves the public by creating free access to water from its compound.

However, the amount of water the locals obtain from such companies and their demand is not balanced, water shortage continues to be a headache for the residents.

According to Dagim, water vessels such as Barrels and Jerry Cans are being sold at skyrocketing prices in the area. A 20-liter plastic Jerry Can is being sold for the price of 120-200 birr.

Water supply problems in the capital and regional cities are becoming a daily occurrence in Ethiopia. It is also known that in some parts of the countryside there is no pipeline installation for tap water. However, since Alemgena is surrounded by different types of water factories, it's apparent that there is no lack of groundwater in the area, which makes anyone raise a question on how the district is highly knocked down with a shortage of water.  

Addis Ababa Water and Energy Resource Development Bureau Head, Seifedin Mehadi, told Addis Zeybe that the bureau is well informed about the lack of water in the area, and the reason for this frequent water outage is the numerous industrial developments taking place in the neighborhood. He noted that additional different causes might also affect the water system such as various construction projects being undertaken in the area. 

"Alemgena is known to have large factories, which may cause many residents to question why water is incidentally cut off if there is no problem with the groundwater resource. But in consideration of the village situated on the highlands of the areas in contrast with the industries built on the lowlands below it will be easier to understand the challenging situation for the distribution of water”. He further said that they are working with the local development coordinators to resolve the issue, in addition to various measures being taken to alleviate the problem.

Another drawback comes from groundwater pumps. When the pump breaks down, the wells are deep and take at least seven days to repair; which consequently affects the supply.

Tsegaye Semaw, the founder and owner of Super Double T Factory, known for providing free water to the community, said, "It is claimed that the water problem is caused due to construction developments, though any development is appreciable the government should come up with another option.”

“Many people are suffering from water shortages and we are trying to help the elderly and pregnant women at least by giving them priority in the water distribution.

Etsegenet Hailu, the road construction coordinator of Alemgena and the head of public relations of Yeha Integrated Natural Agriculture, said that works are being done to solve the problem by establishing new expansions of water in the area. The work is underway to bring about sustainable solutions and the coordinator forwards her appeal to the community to have patience until the projects are fully realized. According to Etsegenet, deepwater wells are being expedited all over Addis Ababa where water outage is most common as an immediate solution while making effort to look for a lasting solution to the problem.

On the other hand, even though Etsegenet told Addis zeybe that residents are provided with bottled water by the government frequently, Addis Zeybe can learn from residents that the bottled water is supplied once a month and that there must be a permanent solution to their basic water shortage problem rather than a futile temporary solution.