A new agency tasked with the development and safekeeping of river basins and green areas of Addis Abeba is to be established by the City Council.
A proclamation for the establishment has been drafted by the city's Planning Commission last year. The proclamation has since been put up for discussions by different offices that will be integrated under the new agency.
Discussions have been held to avoid overlaps between different offices, according to the Public Relations & Press Desk Director at the Mayor's Office, Eyasu Solomon.
The department, to be known as River Basins & Green Areas Agency, will report to the City's Manager, Haile Fisseha, and will oversee, coordinate and control Gulele Botanical Garden, Addis Zoo Park Centre, City River Buffers Development & Climate Change Monitoring Project Office, Entoto & Its Surrounding Tourist Destination Development Project Office and the Addis Abeba Parks Development Project Office.
A management board of seven to nine members, with the head of the new agency delegated as secretary will be formed.
Establishment of the agency is necessary to address mismanagement of rivers and green areas in accordance with the city's master plan states the proclamation. The control of the wastes that enter the rivers, storm runoffs that cause flooding, and the creation of conducive institutional environments for conservation will be the tasks of the new department under the draft proclamation.
"The new agency will harmonise the tasks of all the offices," says Debela Biru, deputy head of the City River Buffers Development & Climate Change Monitoring Project Office.
The Project Office was established in December 2016 to develop and revitalise the city's river and riversides. It targets to increase the number of parks from 13 to 180 and to make the city one of the 15 cleanest cities in Africa by 2020.
It has completed revitalisation projects of rivers in Qechene, Gulele and Entoto and has embarked on the revitalization of the Bantyketu River.
Another responsibility of the agency will be to oversee the Gulele Botanic Garden, established half a decade ago in collaboration with the Addis Abeba University (AAU). It is a museum that conserves indigenous plants. The garden sits on a 705ha plot of land along the northern boundary of Addis Abeba.
Addis Lion Park was established during the regime of Emperor Haile Selassie I and has cages for lions, Gelada baboons, antelope, ducks and tortoises. The animals have currently been relocated to a new site at Peacock Park in the Bole district.
Feyera Senbeta (PhD), lecturer and researcher for more than two decades the Addis Abeba University's Centre for Environmental and Developmental Studies, believes integrating offices under one agency is important to create synergy and is a better way of resource utilisation.
"But there is little sense in integrating the Gulele Botanical Garden given that it is more of a research institution rather an office for the conservation of rivers and parks," he says. "It should have a strong relationship with the agency, not be integrated under it."