18 March 2018

Ethiopia: Office Revamps Landslide Beset River

Gelagle River, which has been known for severe landslides and soil erosion during rainy seasons, has been revamped by the Addis Ababa Rivers & Riverside Development Project Office for 2.5 million Br.

It is one of eight projects on Addis Abeba's rivers that is nearing completion, including Lebu, Bantyiketu, Kurtume, and Bulbula.

The project consists of river bank conservation landscaping. It includes gabioned and earth retaining walls for protection against landslides and erosion as well as check dams and storm water drainages to protect against floods from the surrounding roads.

The site will be overseen from now on by the Environment Development & Protection Bureau of the Gulele district in order to ensure the sustainability of the freshly planted flora by protecting them from people and animal interference until they become naturally fit.

The renovation project was undertaken by Girma Asfaw Waterworks Construction, a grade three contractor established in 2007. It started work on the river in April 2017 and completed the project just last month. The firm has contracted water irrigation and river diversion projects in the Bale zone of the Oromia Regional State for six million Br and eight million Br, respectively.

"We have concluded the main parts of the work on time," said Girma Asfaw, the contractor. "The only causes for the hold-up were the amendments that needed to be approved in a timely manner by the project owner."

It is the Ethiopian Construction Design & Supervision Works Corporation, which was established in 2015, that carried out the consultancy work of contract administration, design and supervision.

From the perspective of the consultant's project manager, Seyoum Nigussie, the project was delayed by over six months due to design modification and contract administration issues.

The project on Y'mariam River was the first one that was completed at a cost of 16 million Br last year by the Office since it became operational in 2015. In a bid to make the city one of the 15 cleanest cities in Africa, similar projects are taking place in six districts and 22 sites such as Qebena, Jemo, Shekla Afer, Wongelawit, Amanuel Condominium and Shankela. The total cost of these projects is around 70 million Br.

The Office has since completed and handed over parks at Jemo and Qebena to the environmental protection and city beautification bureaus of the respective districts this fiscal year.

Currently, the office is in the selection process for a consultant, according to Debela Biru, deputy head of the Office, for a project that will stretch from Afincho Ber to Orma garage. The project will be expected to transform four kilometres with ponds, walkways, parks and six bridges.

"The Office is currently engaged in the cleaning work of riversides in 16 weredas, together with small & medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)," Debela said. "There are also ongoing projects in Yeka district, wereda ten on mountainous areas of more than 500ha aimed at preventing soil erosion and enhancing the water infiltration of the land."

Addis Abeba University (AAU) had conducted an eight-month-long study of all the rivers and riversides in Addis Abeba, including Gelagle, for a cost of 32 million Br.

The research, which looked at pollution, sanitation, catchment management, socioeconomic impact, design and landscape, and legal loopholes is used as a foundation for construction and design.

A resident for eight years near Gelagle in Gulele district, Dereje Tefera, welcomes the renovation of the river.

"There are no floods, but mud often piles up," he said, hoping that the days of soil erosion will be over.

Feyera Senbeta (PhD), lecturer and researcher at Addis Abeba University's (AAU) Centre for Environmental and Developmental Studies for more than two decades, agrees.

"There must be vast vegetation to continually ensure the increase of downward infiltration of water," Feyera told Fortune. "Sustainable awareness campaigns must also be done to protect the environment."

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