View of Lake Hawassa

Ethiopia – An Economic Growth Leader Threatening its Natural Resources

Increasing Risk for Ethiopia’s Natural Resources

Ethiopia is experiencing tremendous economic development: Average annual growth rates between 2008 and 2018 reached 9.8 percent according to World Bank figures. At the same time Ethiopia is facing stark population growth, with a doubling taking place roughly every 30 years. Current estimates assume a population of around 115 million people. This poses a huge challenge for the government: it not only needs to extend basic services and infrastructure, but must also provide job opportunities for its increasing population.

While Ethiopia has plentiful water, the variability of supply over space and time poses a severe risk to its economy and society. According to Vivid economics report of 2018 (Hydro-economic analysis for Ethiopia) the estimated cost of economy-wide impact of floods and droughts might amount to USD 10 billions. Furthermore, institutions for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) are still in their infancy. Lacking knowledge and underfunding makes them unequipped to meet the escalating challenges they are faced with. The private sector, communities and the government agencies mandated to ensure the sustainable management of natural resources are in pressing need to collaborate.

Alignment between NatuReS Ethiopia Programme and the BMZ Country Strategy

The BMZ strategy for Ethiopia focuses on the following 3 priority areas:

  • Sustainable economic development and vocational education
  • Agriculture and food security
  • Conservation and sustainable use of natural resources
NatuReS goal is to actively engage both national and international companies in Natural Resources Stewardship in Ethiopia, as well as supporting public institutions in policy development and implementation aimed at enhancing natural resources stewardship at national and regional levels.

Partnerships in Ethiopia

Fences controlling soil erosion in a field

Soil erosion control activities in the Lake Hawassa Catchment.

Protecting Lake Hawassa Partnership

Location: Lake Hawassa catchment area, Sidama Region

Aim: Protecting Lake Hawassa, which is threatened by population growth, urban and industrial park development, land degradation and improper waste management.


  • Improving waste management in Hawassa City
    • Capacity building of waste collecting associations – business skills, waste segregation, operation and maintenance of plastic baling machines
    • Supporting a plastic value chain – linking collecting associations with (potential) buyers of PET, HDPE, PP
    • Sensitizing citizens on proper waste disposal
    • Supporting the responsible public agencies with capacity building, stakeholder engagement and small infrastructure – 300 bins across town as well as the rehabilitation of a constructed wetland (small scale water treatment plant)
  • Afforestation and soil erosion control activities to fight erosion and siltation from the surrounding small-scale farms on the western side of the lake
  • Restoring the degraded land to improve communities’ livelihoods and safeguard investments (Hawassa Airport)
  • Supporting the implementation of Alliance for Water Stewardship Standard within Hawassa Industrial Park in order to achieve its AWS certification

NatuReS working areas: Circular Economies, Catchments, Economic Zones

Partners: Rift Valley Lakes Basin Development Office; Hawassa City Administration; Sidama Regional Agricultural Office; Hawassa Zuria and Shalla Woredas (4th level government); Hawassa University; PVH Corp.; Haile Resort; Association of Friends of Lake Hawassa (AFLAH); CIFA Onlus; Water Witness International

Addis Ababa Circular Partnership (in process)

Location: Addis Ababa

Aim: Engaging stakeholders from different sectors to improve the working conditions of waste collectors and to increase the amount of plastic that is collected, recycled and processed for further use.

Activities: In the process of partnership development for plastic waste management and circular economy in Addis Ababa.

NatuReS working areas: Cities, Circular Economies

Partners: Addis Ababa Solid Waste Management Agency; the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission; Coba Impact; CIFA Onlus


Ethiopian Minister of Water and Energy visits Protecting Lake Hawassa (PLH) project site

Nov 29, 2021
Ecohydrology as an innovative, low-cost approach to soil erosion control is getting acceptance from farmers and government officials.

Introducing low-cost technology to improve PET collection in Addis Ababa

Aug 23, 2021
Manual baling machines are cheaper to procure and operate than electric ones. Find out how they contribute towards cleaner streets and additional employment …

Nature-Based Solutions to reduce pollution of lake Hawassa

May 7, 2021
Wetlands are used as Nature-based solution to reduce water pollution. See how NatuReS is committing to this approach.

Strengthening stewardship to protect Lake Hawassa

Apr 6, 2021
Natural Resources Stewardship requires the continuous engagement of stakeholders from all different walks of life. Find out more about NatuReS’ effort to pro…


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The Natural Resources Stewardship Programme (NatuReS) is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the European Union and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). This website’s contents are the sole responsibility of GIZ and do not necessarily reflect the views of the BMZ, European Union or FCDO.

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