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Workshop Conducted on Irrigation Water Pricing and Institutional Sustainability of Irrigation Sector in Ethiopia

Dr. Alemu receiving certificate from H.E. Eng. Wondemu

A workshop on ‘Irrigation water pricing and institutional sustainability of irrigation sector in Ethiopia’ was conducted on May 2, 2014 at Harmony Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The workshop was co-organized by Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy (MoWIE) and the Environmental Economics Policy Forum for Ethiopia (EEPFE) at the Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI).

The EEPFE and MoWIE have been undertaking a collaborative research on ‘economic valuation (pricing) of irrigation water and institutional sustainability of irrigation sector in Ethiopia’ over the last two years. The objective of the workshop was sharing the research work with stakeholders with the aim of proposing mechanisms for irrigation water pricing as well as sustainable institutional set up for irrigation development in the country and, thereby, to enhance efficient use of irrigation water resource and to reduce the discrepancy in the national institutional set up in order to play a great role in the achievement of the country’s development endeavor as regards to irrigated agriculture and food security. 

Over 50 delegates representing different regions and various departments attended the workshop. His Excellency, Engineer Wondemu Teklie, State Minister, MoWIE, officially opened the workshop by acknowledging the support of EEPFE in producing relevant and timely research for the irrigation sector and consequently offering evidence-based support to the sector’s cause. Remarkably, the research was acknowledged as being a pioneer in contributing towards the sector’s efforts to become research-based. Many of the previous dialogues were largely theoretical and were carried out at an individual level.   

The panel included Dr. Alemu Mekonnen, Associate Professor at Addis Ababa University and Center Director and Senior Research Fellow at EEPFE; Dr. Zenebe Gebreegziabher, Assistant Professor at Mekelle University and Senior Research Fellow at EEPFE; Rahel Deribe, Junior Research Fellow, EEPFE; Mr. Gossaye Fanta, Policy and Institutions Senior Researcher, MoWIE, and Mr. Abiti Getaneh, Director, Research & Development Directorate, MoWIE. Dr. Alemu Mekonnen and Mr. Abiti Getaneh facilitated the workshop.

EEPFE was awarded a certificate by MoWIE in recognition of the contribution the Forum has made to the researches on ‘economic valuation (pricing) of irrigation water’ and ‘institutional sustainability of irrigation sector in Ethiopia. Dr. Alemu received the award on behalf of EEPFE from the State Minister, H.E. Eng. Wondemu Teklie.

The Forum co-organized the workshop understanding the importance of successful irrigation for the country’s agricultural development and that an in-depth dialogue with all the relevant stakeholders including MoWIE is an important part of furthering its policy interaction (outreach) activities. Irrigation development holds significant potential to improve productivity, alleviate poverty, and reduce vulnerability of the country to climactic volatility and could potentially lift up to 6 million households out of food insecurity. The country has been investing on irrigation infrastructures over the last two decades. However, in general, there has been much concern, in the policy arena, with regards to inefficient water use practices and overall lack of incentives to water conservation in the country. Moreover, the placement of irrigation sector in terms of organizational structure is quite variable across regions and this has many drawbacks. Although many donor, public, and nongovernmental organizations work in the irrigation sector, a structural and coordinated collaboration is still lacking between them. That is, while the expectations are high, the institutional arrangement to realize the expectations, is not in place.

Hence, the research findings presented at the workshop are from the premise of recognizing this fact and are sought to be helpful for these institutions, especially the Ministry, to use them as inputs for their policy (and decision) making in relation to determining irrigation water prices and mechanism design. In addition, in connection to the institutional set up, despite the fact that participants were concerned in the importance of applying different organizational structure depending on the available man-made and natural resources endowments, the research result showed that there is a need for a sustainable, harmonized, and well-functioning institutional set up of irrigation sector in Ethiopia. The workshop was concluded with a recommendation of further work in refining the results and adding to the knowledge of the irrigation sector for making practical and effective policy. 

By Goshu Tefera

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