Over the past two decades, Ethiopia’s dependence on its river basins has increased. This comes as no surprise, since these decades have also witnessed unprecedented economic growth in the country. Of the many river basins in Ethiopia, Awash is one of the most important one and of great cultural value to its people. Spanning over approximately 1,200 km, River Awash is located in the most densely populated region of the country. In recent years, rainfall has become erratic, increasing the dependence on the river and its tributaries to meet water requirements of irrigation, domestic and household uses, and of manufacturing and service sectors. This increasing dependence has resulted in deterioration of the basin’s water quality and loss of its riverine ecosystem. In order to prevent further deterioration of the river basin, a sound water resource management plan or a basin management plan is essential. An effective monitoring strategy-to monitor the quality and quantity of water resources—is the core of a sound water resource management plan. The current basin management plan, although well-designed, has not been very effective in preventing and mitigating the degradation of the Awash basin. Lack of adequate and scientifically validated practices and procedures has come out as a major reason for weak implementation of the basin management plan.
Considering the importance of river quality monitoring, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India in collaboration with Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MEFCC), Ethiopia and Awash Basin Authority (AWAB), Ethiopia has prepared this strategy document for a comprehensive water quality monitoring plan for the Awash Basin. The main objective of this document is to highlight the ways in which an effective water quality monitoring programme can be developed and implemented. This strategy document also intends to address the existing gaps in the current basin management plan of Awash by strengthening the existing monitoring network, and by sharing and encouraging the adoption of alternative and affordable modes of monitoring that can prove beneficial to the monitoring agencies in the long run.