Espa˝ol || Franšais
      AQUASTAT Home        About AQUASTAT     FAO Water    Statistics at FAO

Featured products

Main Database
Global map of irrigation areas
Irrigation water use
Water and gender
Climate info tool

Geographical entities

Countries, regions, river basins


Water resources
Water uses
Irrigation and drainage
Institutional framework
Other themes

Information type

Summary tables
Maps and spatial data

Info for the media

Did you know...?
Visualizations and infographics
SDG Target 6.4
UNW Briefs

Read the full profile


Environment and health

The main environmental issues related to water management are erosion and siltation of water infrastructures. Water pollution is still mostly limited to urban and industrial areas, but soil salinization is directly linked to irrigated agriculture.

Erosion and sedimentation

Erosion is caused by natural factors, such as topography, torrential rains and wind. It is also caused by human activities, in particular deforestation for agriculture, charcoal, construction, mining, or by grazing, all due to unsustainable utilization and rapidly expanding human and livestock populations. Annual soil erosion amounts to about 1 900 million tons/year, impacting water, land and agricultural productivity (IWMI, 2010). Since the majority of the main rivers have their headwaters in the highlands parts of the country, their silt content is high. As a result, water bodies are silting up, especially in the Abbay basin (ODI, 2015). Sedimentation in dams, such as the Koka, Aba Samuel, Borkena and Gondar, reduced their storage capacity. Water levels of natural lakes have decreased, in particular Awasa, Abaya, Alemaya, Lange, Rudolf, Chew Bahir, Adele and Zway, and some show signs of drying up. Finally, a number of rivers change their courses due to siltation, particularly during the rainy season, resulting in yearly flooding in the areas near the riverbanks. This is particularly the case of the Lower Awash river (EPA, 2003 and EPA and UNEP, 2008).

Water pollution

Water pollution is still limited to industrial, mining and urban areas (EPA, 2012), but is a growing problem in the Awash river basin, due to major cities and industries in the Upper basin. In early 2000s, about 80 percent of industries around Addis Ababa discharged their waste into nearby water bodies without any treatment. Tributaries of the Awash river around Addis Ababa and Nazareth are polluted (EPA, 2003). Pollution causes water hyacinth infestation in Lake Koka, algal bloom in Lake Aba Samuel, industrial pollution of the Akaki river and nitrate pollution of the Awash river (ODI, 2015).


Salinity problems due to waterlogging were observed in irrigated lands along the Awash river. In the 1980s, thousands of hectares of the Amibara plantation for cotton, in the middle Awash basin, had to be abandoned after less than five years of irrigation farming due to faulty drains (WB, 2007).


^ go to top ^

       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
      © FAO, 2016   |   Questions or feedback?    [email protected]
       Your access to AQUASTAT and use of any of its information or data is subject to the terms and conditions laid down in the User Agreement.