The Right to Clean and Healthy Environment: The Case of Lake Ziway Area

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Lake Ziway is one of the largest fresh water resources in the Rift Valley Region. Currently the lake is exposed to various human pressures due to intensification of large scale and small scale farming activities around the watershed. The lake‟s water quality is affected by the untreated agro-chemical effluents discharged into the lake by the floriculture industries located at the shore of the lake. Moreover, agro-chemicals enter into the lake from the small scale irrigation practices via run off. Effluents from the flower farms and pesticides from horticulture activities at the shore of the lake can migrate via water into the food chain as well, ultimately being consumed by humans/ animals in food. These chemicals have negative impact on humans, animals and fish resources. Exposure to these chemicals through different modes could cause cancer, neurological disorder, and birth defect such as missing body parts on humans. Moreover, these chemicals kill fish resources. The excessive water abstraction for the large scale and small scale irrigation activities, siltation due to soil erosion that brings in silt soil to the lake as a result of farming in adjacent lands…, are also affecting the water quantity of the lake. And there is an estimate that the lake could encounter the fate of Lake Haromaya unless the limited water resource is used in a sustainable manner. The researcher has employed socio-legal research which is qualitative and descriptive by examining the relevant laws and assessing their application by field research. The literature review includes document review and the empirical part of the research includes interviews and discussion with relevant office holders, focus group discussion, and survey questionnaires. Various findings have emerged from the study. Firstly, chemical effluents, siltation and reduced water level have adversely affected the fish resources of the lake, and the reduction in the water level of the lake has caused substantial decline in vegetation around the lake which serve as breeding and nursery grounds for fish. Moreover, juvenile and adult fish are dying because of chemical effluents that enter into the lake in various ways. Moreover, fish resources of the lake is depleting as the result of over exploitation. Hence, the environmental problems and other factors are affecting the right to livelihood, the right to life, food, health and other rights of the fishermen and the local community. Secondly, in spite of Ethiopia‟s commitments under major human rights instruments and various domestic environmental laws the findings of the study indicate the absence of regulations, absence of agro-chemical policy, lack of political will, and gaps in regulatory and enforcement capacity.



Lake Ziway,Rift vally,Right to Clean and Healthy Environment,Environment