Water shortage creates new businesses

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Delivering tap water is the task of the city’s Water and Sewerage Authority. Because of the inability to meet resident’s demand for portable water; the Authority has begun rationing and delivers water by tankers to the mountainous part of the city. However, individuals and business institutions are forced to buy water from vendors and water tank truck owners even though distributing water is the sole right of the Authority. This may incur the business owners and the Authority personnel to vandalism by disrupting the rationing schedule.
The capital city Addis Ababa still has a long way to go when it comes to delivering potable water. The city water and sewerage Authority can only able to deliver below 75 percent of water demand for the estimated 5 million inhabitants in which most of them get through rationing.
The 132-year-old capital city, is only able to cover two-thirds of demand by supplying 575,000 cubic meters of portable water to its inhabitants on a daily basis.
Most residents of Addis Ababa are forced to walk far, up to 2km, to fetch water by themselves or they are charged more money by people, like Mentesnot Kassa to bring it to them. He carries yellow jerry cans that can be filled with 20 liters of water on his shoulders.
For Mentesnot, a shoe shine around Ferensay Legasion, the situation creates additional income for him. He charges customers 15 to 25 birr for a single jerry can depending on the distance traveled to deliver.
Business has been thriving since he began the task, so he bought a hand push cart with 5 thousand birr to deliver water to customers.
“The hand push cart helped me to deliver more water and save time in addition to increasing my income,” said Mentesnot. Residents and eateries are his biggest customers.
Birhanu Teklu, a public servant in his late 40’s lives in Yeka sub city. Birhanu who lives with his two children and wife in a rented house is one of his customers.
“I have been living in that area since I came to Addis Ababa some 11 years ago and water scarcity is a common phenomenon here,” he said.
“There are multiple problems raising two children, the ever increasing school fees, a price hikes in food items, etc. Above all the water scarcity is a big challenge,” he adds.
The problem with the water shortage is not only the cost it incurs. It is often unsanitary and not suitable for drinking or cooking because it is contaminated. Therefore, we buy bottled water for drinking, he said.
Such cases are common in Yeka, Gulele, and Kolfe Keraneo sub cities.
To combat the water shortage, the Authority will deliver water by tanker trucks to inhabitants via micro enterprises in the mountainous part of Addis Ababa.
The Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority mentions several reasons for the shortage of potable water, the ever increasing demand of water, lack of appropriate maintenance, and shortage of hard currency to purchase spare parts, water pipe breakage due to ongoing road construction and the aging of pipes.
The authority mentions frequent power outages as another problem because it has deep wells that needs to be pumped. There are over 150 ground water wells in addition to the main sources of potable water in Legedadi, Gefersa and Akaki.
In the unreliable rationing schedule, some of the areas in Addis get water only once or twice a week.
“Inhabitants might not get water more than once a week if electric power shortage occurs at the sub-pumping stations,” said Nigues Desalegne, Communication Officer at the Authority.
The City Administration’s inability to meet the demand for clean water has opened business opportunities for water vendors and for those businesses who deliver water through tanker trucks. Still others are delivering tap water through tanker trucks to hotels, hospitals and construction sites.
They deliver tap water by tanker truck and charge them up to 1,000birr even though selling water by any means is illegal.
They are arguing that they are charging for transportation and service delivery.
We are not aware of these issues, said Nigues, however the Authority should focus on working to meet the demand of the city residents, mentioning the Ayata Fenta water well project with the capacity of producing 68,000 cubic meters a day, Legedadi phase 2 Water Well Supply Project is expected to generate 86,000 cubic meters of water a day and the Gerbi Water Project with 73,000 cubic meters generating capacity a day as efforts in pipe line to produce additional water supply.