Multiple use services: Key issues in the Nile Basin of Ethiopia

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Presentation by Alan Duncan, Don Peden and Debbie Bossio, Leiden, February 2010. …

Presentation by Alan Duncan, Don Peden and Debbie Bossio, Leiden, February 2010.

Water is used for many things in rural areas including domestic use (drinking, washing), irrigation of crops, inputs into small businesses, livestock watering, fisheries to mention but a few. Investments in rural water provision usually focus on single use, either domestic or irrigation. There has been a move in recent years to add value to such investments by thinking about multiple uses of water when designing investments: the terms “domestic +” and “irrigation +” have been coined.

A Multiple Water Use Services (MUS) workshop was recently held in Leiden to develop methods of assessing cost and benefits of water investments when viewed through the “MUS lens”.

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  • 1. Multiple Use Services - key issues in the Nile basin of Ethiopia Alan Duncan, Don Peden and Debbie Bossio
  • 2. Some characteristics of the Blue Nile basin…
    • Largely rainfed
      • “ green water” issues are important
      • Ecosystem services are key – “regulating” function. Many downstream issues (70% of flow in Nile north of Khartoum comes from Ethiopia; 10 countries in the basin)
      • Uneven distribution of rainfall – lots of potential for better rainwater management
      • Low service levels – access to drinking water and sanitation is low
  • 3. Most significant MUS issues
      • Without appropriate institutional arrangements, policy and management, conflict in the Nile region is  the likely outcome.  
      • Livestock and fish are major users of water but have been largely overlooked.
      • MUS needs to explicitly include water to support ecosystem services (e.g. large amounts of water required for C sequestration)
      • MUS, especially at household levels, is highly gendered.  Without a MUS approach the powerful will control water. Marginalized peoples will suffer.
      • No strong tradition of stakeholder involvement in water planning.
  • 4. Addressing MUS
    • MUS and rainfed topics need to be more fully integrated. 
      • Any efforts to develop technologies for improving rainfed systems (green water management, water harvesting, etc.) will generate benefits and costs.  For example, water harvesting that creates a pond or small reservoir can and will be used for livestock, fish, domestic use, and of course crops.
      • Domestic +, irrigation +, RWM +
  • 5. For Discussion for TWG
    • Need to define Water Services vis-à-vis Ecosystem Services (provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural).
    • ….Multiple Use Water Systems rather than Services ?