Water Security in the Awash Basin of Ethiopia: An Institutional Analysis

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Addis Ababa University


This thesis analyzed water institutions to achieve water security in the Awash Basin of Ethiopia. It examined the historical scenery of water institutions, the coordination, and synergy of various actors to overcome water-related risks, stresses, and shocks. It is centred on Multistakeholder processes, and pragmatic Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) as a ‘soft path’ to realize water security. The core argument of this thesis is that promulgating policy statements or construction of water infrastructure per sue cannot ensure water security in the basin context such as Awash River. Instead, vibrant water institutions through proper coordination of various endeavors, enforcement of laws, involvements of various actors, as well as understanding their interests and priories are the central entities to achieve water security. Grounded within institutional economic theories, the home of several theories, the study was underpinned by blend of theoretical roots, as a single theory could not address the complex and overarching problem of water resources and institutions governing them. As such, Institutional Decomposition and Analysis (IDA), Institution of Sustainability (IOS), Water Poverty Approach (WA), Common Pool Resources Management, Collective Action, and System Thinking perspectives were employed. Given the theoretical genre and multiple unit of analyses ranging from macro to micro levels, the study involved various methods and techniques of data collection. Archives (water law, policy, and administration), in-depth interviews with key actors (policy makers, technocrats, philanthropists, and local communities), stakeholder analysis, survey of key institutions, participant observation, attending water-focused workshops, Focused Group Discussions, and survey of households were used to collect data at the field level. Moreover, secondary data sources were carefully reviewed to supplement the field data. The data collected were triangulated and analyzed using thematic and content analyses. Principal Component Analysis (PCA), and descriptive statistics were also used. Software applications such as SPSS Ver.22, Vensim Version 7.2, VisuaLzer 2.2 were used to present the data as systematically as possible. The result revealed that water institutions were characterized by gradual development but highly changing, and inconsistent and unable to build strong and dynamic basin level institution. This has created instability, discontinuity, and hence inherent institutional failure characterized by discrepancies between various efforts and realities in the ground. The study identified four categories of stakeholders in the Awash Basin: the government institutions, private institutions, external bodies, and the local community. They engaged in water use, allocation, distribution, policy-making, advocacy, and setting rules and regulations, development and management, and financing of water sector- water transaction processes. Nevertheless, these stakeholders are not ...... Keywords: Awash basin, Ethiopia, Institution, Policy, Water security, Multi-stakeholder, IWRM, system thinking