Ethiopia Afar Region; Chifra Woreda by lanyuehua


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                          Water for Africa Project: Water Report

Ethiopia: Afar Region; Chifra Woreda

                                            Country Level Information

                                            Ethiopia is one of Africa's poorest countries
                                            with 83.8 percent of the 75million population
                                            living in rural areas (Central Statistical
                                            Agency, 2006). Its annual percentage growth
                                            between 1992 and 2003 was 4.1 (FAO, 2005).
                                            The Ethiopian economy is sustained primarily
                                            through agriculture, coffee being the number
                                            one export. Subsistence farming engages 80.2
                                            percent of the total population (Central
                                            Statistical Agency, 2005). In 2003, agriculture
                                            contributed about 42 percent of the national
                                            GDP (FAO, 2005).

                                           The national poverty head count in 2004 was
                                           44 percent (FAO, 2005; ADF, 2005).
                                           According to ADF (2005), the continuous
deterioration of Ethiopia’s terms of trade (in view of the declining international coffee
prices) and the depressed cereal prices, both of which impacted negatively on rural
household income and the poverty situation are among some of reasons for the high
poverty levels in the country.

Ethiopian climate varies according to the different topographical regions. The central
plateau has a moderate climate with minimal seasonal temperature variation. The mean
minimum during the coldest season is 6°C (43°F), while the mean maximum rarely
exceeds 26°C (79°F). Temperature variations in the lowlands are much greater, and the
heat in the desert and Red Sea coastal areas is extreme, with occasional highs of 60°C
(140°F). Heavy rainfall occurs in most of the country during June, July, and August. The
High Plateau also experiences a second, though much milder, rainy season between
December and February. Average annual precipitation on the central plateau is roughly
1220 mm (48 in). The northern provinces receive less rainfall, and the average annual
precipitation in the Ogaden is less than 100 mm (4 in). The western most region of
Ethiopia receives an annual rainfall of nearly 2000 mm (80 in).

Environment issues
According to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), the major cause of most
environmental problems is the rapidly growing human population. Meeting the basic needs
of all these people- food, shelter, heat, energy etc, places tremendous demands on
natural resources. Cutting down trees for firewood and land cultivation have led to much
destruction of the forests, which in turn affects rainfall. Over-grazing and cultivation on
slopes cause large quantities of top soil to wash away each year. Additionally, declining
soil fertility leads farmers to cultivate marginal land, putting it at risk of erosion (EPA,

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                                 Water for Africa Project: Water Report

                                                       Regional Information: Afar

                                                       Located in the northeast of Ethiopia, Afar
                                                       region shares borders with Eritrea and
                                                       Djibouti. It is divided into five zones,
                                                       which     are    sub-divided    into   29
                                                       administrative woredas. The region is
                                                       one of the poorest and least developed
                                                       regions of Ethiopia. The dominant
                                                       occupation in the region is pastoralism,
                                                       however, drought is a prominent factor
                                                       in Afar pastoralism.

                                                       Afar region lies in the arid and semi-arid
                                                       climatic zone within the Great Rift Valley
                                                       of East Africa.
Location of Afar Region in Ethiopia

Afar in one of the nine ethnic divisions of Ethiopia. Formerly known as Region 2, its
current capital is Asayita; a new capital named Semera on the paved Awash - Asseb
highway is under construction.

Based on figures from the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA) published in 2005,
Afar has an estimated total population of 1,389,004, consisting of 772,002 men and
617,002 women. 90.9 per cent of the population are considered rural inhabitants, while
9.1 per cent are urban. With an estimated area of 96,707 square kilometers, this region
has an estimated density of 14.36 people per square kilometer.

Afar region is one of the driest and hottest areas in Ethiopia. Temperature ranges from a
mean temperature of 42.50C in the area of Dubti woreda and mean minimum temperature
of 17.80C in the high altitude zone at Gewane. The region has moisture index of less than
0.25 and receives mean rainfall of 200mm (EEPCO, 2006). A severe dry season occurs in
May and June at the regional level. This season has the hottest temperature. The main
rainy season occurs between July and September, while short rain stays between March
and April. Rainfall ranges from 500mm on the western edges of the regional state to
200mm in the lava plains to the eastern part of the region (EEPCO, 2006).

Varies from hilly escarpment to lowland plain land areas. Some areas lie below sea level.
The Afar Depression, also known as the Danakil depression, the lowest point in Ethiopia
and one of the lowest in Africa, is located in the north of the Region. The southern part
consists of the valley of the Awash River, which empties into a string of lakes along the
Ethiopian-Djibouti border.

Environmental issues
Desertification; floods; and recurrent droughts are all current issues. Meher season rainfall
performance was bad in some of the marginal lowland crop dependent areas of the east,
and areas bordering pastoral areas. Flash floods and river overflows inflicted serious
damages to livelihoods in many crop dependent and pastoral areas, especially in Afar
region. Poor livestock conditions (especially cattle and sheep), reduced income and a

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                                UK Registered Charity no. 1111441
                                     W Charitable Foundation
                                Water for Africa Project: Water Report

sizeable displaced population (due to floods) mean emergency food assistance is needed
in these areas until the end of the year.

Despite the overall good performance of the season, south and south eastern lowland
areas and northern parts of the pastoral Afar region are facing serious water stress.
Pastoralists in the northeast, especially Zones 2 and 4 of Afar Region, remain highly
vulnerable, as they continue to feel the effects of consecutive droughts and as the current
performance of rains is not promising.

The vegetation cover of Afar in general is sparse and the area is prone to desertification.
Over 70 percent of the land area in Afar region is bare land (EEPCO, 2006).
Some areas in the region are prone to seasonal floods especially along the Awash River
(Piguet, 2001).
Recurrent droughts
Drought is a common phenomenon in the region causing serious impairment to livestock
production, the main source of livelihood for the pastoralists in the region. In the last 5
years, the region was hit by two severe droughts: the 2002/03 drought in which all 29
woredas in the region were affected and the 2004/05 drought which affected most of zone
1, 2 and 4 (Oxfam International, 2005).

Community Information: Chifra

Chifra is located near the base of the eastern escarpment of the Ethiopia highlands and
bordered on the south by Mille, on the west by the Oromia region, on the north by the
administrative zone 4, and on the east by Dubti. The major town in Chifra is Chifra.
Pastoralism is the main form of livelihood for the people in the woreda.

Chifra’s population as at July 2006 was estimated to be 90,896 persons. This population
figure is a projection of the October 1994 National Population and Housing Census. (a).

Climate and terrain
The climate is semi arid to arid. Terrain includes both fairly highland and low-land.
Altitudinal range is 650-1000 metres above sea level.

Environmental Issues
Recurrent drought is an ongoing problem causing soil erosion and the loss of surface

Water problems
Only 6.1 percent of the woreda’s population has access to potable water according to
UNICEF. This figure is low because of non-functionality of some existing safe water
sources in the woreda1 (e). Four bore holes have been dug in four locations in the woreda
including Meskid, Anderkallo and Waama kebeles2 and Chifra town. The bore holes at

  Safe water coverage from all existing water sources is supposed to be 9.8 percent according to UNICEF, but due
to non-functionality of some sources, the coverage has reduced to 6.1 percent.
  Kebeles are administrative units within a woreda.
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                          Water for Africa Project: Water Report

Chifra and Meskid kebele are functioning whilst the Anderkallo kebele borehole is not
functioning due to pump failure. Construction of Waama borehole is not yet complete (e).

Due to insufficient potable water in the woreda, 85 percent of the diarrhea cases recorded
in Chifra health clinic are linked to poor hygiene and sanitation as a result of low potable
water supply coverage (e).

Water sources
Chifra has two perennial rivers, Mille and Waama. It also has intermittent springs along
the boundary between Amhara and Afar region (e).

Water supply methods
Safe water supply methods used by the local communities vary considerably between
rural and urban areas (See Table 1 below).

Table 1: Percentage of households by sources of safe water (f)
                     Own tap              Public tap           Protected well/spring
Urban areas           16.64                 60.16               1.31
Rural areas           0.92                  19.71               6.26
Total                 7.57                  36.83               4.17

Public taps are an important source of safe water in both urban and rural areas although
the proportion of households served through this means is higher in the urban areas than
in the rural areas. However, the use of this method of water supply has declined slightly in
urban areas from 60.9 % households in 2000 to 60.16% households in 2004 (f; g), while
its use in rural areas rose sharply from 18.6 percent households in 2000 to 36.83
households in 2004 (f; g).

Own taps are also another safe water supply method in the urban areas. However, like
public taps, its use also declined from 18.9 percent households in 2000 to 16.64
households in 2004 (f; g). The use of own taps in rural areas however rose from 0.3
percent in 2000 to 0.92 percent in 2004 (f; g).
The year 2004 saw an increase in the number of urban households using protected
wells/springs as their source of water (from 0.9 percent in 2000 to 1.31 percent in 2004).
The same trend was also observed in rural areas, where the proportion of households
using this source rose from 2 percent in 2000 to 6.26 percent in 2004 (f; g).
Overall, access to safe water (from own tap, public tap and protected well/spring) is 48.6
percent, while 51.4 percent of the population access unsafe water (i.e. water from
unprotected wells/springs and rivers (f).

Aid agencies
UNICEF is working to improve access to safe water in the woreda by supporting the
activities of the regional water resources department like bore well drilling and
rehabilitation. Also, the Japanese government is supporting a project on safe water in the
woreda which involves the rehabilitation of the water supply scheme in the town of Chifra.
Other aid agencies are implementing projects aimed at improving food security in the
woreda. The Lutheran World Federation for instance is involved in developing irrigation
systems with a plan to irrigate 150 hectares of land in the woreda using water diverted
from the Waama River (e).

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                               UK Registered Charity no. 1111441
                               W Charitable Foundation
                           Water for Africa Project: Water Report


(a) Central Statistical Agency (CSA), (2005), National Statistics.

(b) Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), (2005), The State of Food and Agriculture-
Agricultural trade and poverty: Can trade work for the poor?

(c) Central Statistical Agency (CSA), (2005), National Labour Force Survey Summary

(d) African Development Foundation (2005), Ethiopia Rural Water Supply and Sanitation
Programme: Appraisal Report.

(e) Oxfam International (2005), Livelihoods/Emergency Assessment in Afar Region.

(f) Central Statistical Agency (CSA), (2004), Ethiopia Welfare Monitoring Survey. (Note:
Values for Afar region).

(g) Central Statistical Agency (CSA), (2000), Ethiopia Welfare Monitoring Survey. (Note:
Values for Afar region).

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                                UK Registered Charity no. 1111441

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