The city of Dire Dawa has welcomed the completion of 14 potable-water wells built at a cost of one billion Birr with financing from the World Bank and the city administration.
The water wells in Borren and Tomie vicinities have a combined pumping capacity of 31,000 cubic meters of water a day. World Bank's largesse consisted of 96 million Br in grants and 795 million Br in loans, with the remaining construction cost covered by the city administration.
The City Water & Sewerage Authority began operating the Borren water wells in August, and the Tomie wells were initiated last month.
The projects will bring the city to 90pc clean water coverage, according to Mohammed Musse, manager of the city water authority.
The city had been using nine water wells with a pumping capacity of 18,000 cubic meters of water a day that supplied potable water to 600,000 residents.
The main water supply problem for Dire Dawa includes groundwater resource depletion, high pollution from the sandy soil and shallow groundwater conditions, according to the United Nations, Human Settlements Programme.
As tap water started flowing into some areas of the city, residents were relieved to see the end of water scarcity.
"We used to get water twice a week," Zerihun Nigussie, a resident of Dire Dawa, told Fortuneby phone. "But now the water runs the whole week."
The Authority official affirms Zerihun's claim. "Previously, the water was supplied in shifts," Mohammed said. "But now the supply is around the clock."
The construction design and supervision of the water wells construction was done by MS Consultancy, which completed the Addis Abeba eastern catchment and water projects in Jimma, Sebeta and Metehara cities of Oromia Regional State.
The electromechanical work was completed by Felija & Masson Enterprise, a French company, under contract for 31.7 million Br.
The water generated from the wells will be collected in nine concrete water reservoirs constructed as part of the project. The tanks have a holding capacity ranging from 500 cubic meters to 4,000 cubic meters.
Built by C.G.C. Overseas Construction Ethiopia Limited, a Chinese firm, the project was delayed by a year and a half when the Authority terminated the contract. The Chinese contractor has constructed the Dire Dawa-Dewele road project and the Hansom Glass factory.
Initially, Tana Drilling & Industries Plc in 2013, a company established in March 2004 with experience drilling and constructing water projects in Borena zone, Adama University and Harar, was awarded the project.
However, the contract was terminated after the Authority alleged that Tana caused a delay of the project. The Authority then refloated the tender to hire the Chinese contractor.
Following that, Tana took the case to court, suing the regional state for terminating the project, according to Estegenet Berhe, a major shareholder of Tana.
"The case is now pending at the court," Estegenet told Fortune.
Experts welcomed the construction of the wells and called for the efficient management of water for sustainable usage.
"The city should not only focus on the development of new wells," says Emeru Assefa, water resource and environmental engineering lecturer at Haromaya University with a decade of experience. "The Authority should have a water shed management system to conserve water resources."
The expert suggests that the Authority and residents look for alternative sources of potable water.
"To save water, the Authority needs to look for new technologies and recycle used water."