Ethiopia’s largest lake crippled by water weed and gaps in polices to conserve it

Ethiopia’s largest lake crippled by water weed and gaps in polices to conserve it

Water Journalists Africa

Dagim Terefe

Lake Tana, the source of Blue Nile ranks the largest lake in Ethiopia. But it’s contaminated. Its pollution is attributed to surface and underground discharge of wastes; degradation of its wetlands; siltation; upstream river damming; excessive withdrawal of its water for various purposes and introduction of invasive alien species into the lake.

And Dr. Ayalew Wondie, an aquatic and wetland science professor at Bahir-Dar University says this is not about to end due to “gaps in laws and lack of enforcement of existing regulations” to conserve this historical lake and most especially control of the invasive water hyacinth locally known as ‘Enboch’.

Dr. Ayalew was presenting a paper about the Impacts of this invasive water hyacinth on Lake Tana Sub-basin during a meeting of more than twenty-five Journalists, researchers, government officials and communication specialists from Eastern Nile countries of Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan, and South Sudan.

They gathered at the source of Blue Nile, Lake Tana and discussed the spread of this water hyacinth also known as Eichhornia crassipes in August 2018.

The Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO) of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) Secretariat organized the ‘Eastern Nile Media Training’ targeting raising awareness among media practitioners in Eastern Nile nations about the immensity and urgency of water hyacinth control on Lake Tana.

Speaking during the same occasion, Goraw Goshu, PhD fellow at Bahir-Dar University stressed that Lake Tana is everybody’s property which practically means nobody’s property.

“There is no institution on the ground clearly responsible to manage Lake Tana. Different users would like to maximize their profits out of the Lake and its resource which leads to misunderstanding and conflict,” he said.

Dr. Wubalem Fekade, head of the social development and communication unit at the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO) of the NBI based in Addis Ababa said the water weed in lake Tana could cause both hydrological and biodiversity loss.

“The water hyacinth reduces the water storage of the Lake. Its impact will also reach downstream countries,” he said.

The Eastern Nile Media Training had a special program that gave chance to the journalists to pay a visit to various parts of the lake to witness how this invasive weed has affected this water resource, leading to severe biodiversity loss.

“As a journalist I will dig out more information about water hyacinth and its impact on Eastern Nile basin and do so many reports about it,” narrates Waakhe Simon Mudu Muray, a South Sudanese freelance journalist working for Voice of America Africa.

He says the occasion gave him an opportunity to learn the effects of the weed on aquatic life and ecosystem of Lake Tana in particular and the Nile Basin in general.

Likewise, Elzahara Ibrahim, a Sudanese freelance journalist for Sudan Vision Daily says the workshop helped her to answer questions such as: “Why is the spreading of water hyacinth so rapid in Lake Tana? While it exists in other places like Lake Victoria but its impact is not as much as that of Lake Tana.”

Rehab Abdelmohsen, Egyptian web journalist said that the workshop helped her to establish useful networks. “When I was writing reports on the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, it was difficult to get experts as a source from Ethiopia to balance my news story. I now got a chance to meet experts in the workshop,” Rehab said.

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