Overall Goal:

"To enhance and promote all national efforts towards the efficient, equitable and optimum utilization of the available Water Resources of Ethiopia for significant socio-economic development on sustainable basis |"

Objectives : -

  • Development of the water resources of the country for economic and social benefits of the people, on equitable and sustainable basis.
  • Allocation and apportionment of water, based on comprehensive and integrated plans and optimum allocation principles that incorporate efficiency of use, equity of access, and sustainability of the resource.
  • Managing and combating drought as well as other associated slow on-set disasters through, interalia, efficient allocation, redistribution, transfer, storage and efficient use of water resources.
  • Combating and regulating floods through sustainable mitigation, prevention, rehabilitation and other practical measures.
  • Conserving, protecting and enhancing water resources and the overall aquatic environment on sustainable basis.

Fundamental principles of the policy

  1. Water is a natural endowment commonly owned by all the peoples of Ethiopia.
  2. As far as conditions permit, every Ethiopian citizen shall have access to sufficient water of acceptable quality, to satisfy basic human needs.
  3. In order to significantly contribute to development, water shall be recognized both as an economic and a social good.
  4. Water resources development shall be underpinned on rural-centered, decentralized management, participatory approach as well as integrated framework.
  5. Management of water resources shall ensure social equity economic efficiently, systems reliability and sustainability norms.
  6. Promotion of the participation of all stakeholders, user communities; particularly women's participation in the relevant aspects of water resources management.

To realize the overall goal and the fundamental principles, the water resource management policy spelled out mainly three important sub sectoral policies.

These are:

  • Water supply and sanitation – covering water supply for humans, animal consumption, industrial and other uses other than irrigation & hydropower.
  • Irrigation –, which covers small-scale, medium-scale and large- scale irrigation activities.
  • Hydropower –, which covers small medium and large-scale power Development activities.

Policy on various cross cutting issues , including those dealing with Environment & watershed management, groundwater resource, water allocation and apportionment, technology and Gender among other things.


Sub-Scetoral Policy Objectives

1. Water Supply and Sanitation Policy

Overall Objective

The overall objective of water supply and sanitation policy is to enhance the well-being and productivity of the Ethiopian people through provision of adequate, reliable and clean water supply and sanitation services and to foster its tangible contribution to the economy by providing water supply services that meet the livestock, industry and other water users' demands.

Detail Objectives

  1. Provision of, as much as conditions permit, sustainable and sufficient water supply services to all the peoples of Ethiopia .
  2. Satisfying water supply requirements for livestock, industries and other users as much as conditions permit.
  3. Carry out operation and maintenance of all water supply and sanitation services in a sustainable and efficient manner.
  4. Promoting sustainable conservation and utilization of the water resources through protection of water sources, efficiency in the use of water as well as control of wastage and pollution.
  5. Creating sustainable capacity building in terms of the enabling environment, including institutions, human resources development, legislation and regulatory framework for water supply and sanitation.
  6. Enhancing the well-being and productivity of the people by creating conducive environment for the promotion of appropriate sanitation services.

2. Irrigation Policy

Overall Objective

The overall objective of irrigation policy is to develop the huge irrigated agriculture potential for the production of food crops and raw materials needed for agro industries, on efficient, and sustainable basis and without degrading the fertility of the production fields and water resources base.

Detail Objectives

  • Development and enhancement of small scale irrigated agriculture and grazing lands for food self-sufficiency at the household level.
  • Development and enhancement of small-, medium- and large - scale irrigated agriculture for food security and food self – sufficiency at national level including export earnings and to satisfy local agro-industrial demands.
  • Promotion of irrigation study, planning and implementation on economically viable, socially equitable, technically efficient, environmentally sound basis as well as development of sustainable, productive and affordable irrigation farms.
  • Promotion of water use efficiency, control of wastage, protection of irrigation structures and appropriate drainage systems.
  • Ensuring that small-, medium- and large-scale irrigation potential projects are studied and designed to a stage ready for immediate implementation by private and/or the government at any time.

3. Hydropower Policy

Overall Objective

The overall objective of the hydropower policy is to enhance efficient and sustainable development of the water resources and meet the national energy demands as well as cater for external markets to earn foreign exchange.

Detail Objectives

  1. Ensuring that small, medium and large hydropower candidate projects are studied and designed to a stage ready for immediate implementation at any one time.
  2. Ensuring that a short, medium and long-term hydropower generation programme is worked out well ahead of time.
  3. Ensuring that hydropower development projects are studied, designed, constructed, operated and utilized on economically viable basis to an acceptable technical, environmental and safety standards.
  4. Ensuring that the negative environmental impacts of hydropower are mitigated to the extent possible and that the positive environmental impacts are exploited as far as possible.
  5. Strengthening local human power capacity for hydropower development, project study, design construction and operation.
  6. Promoting that hydropower development on trans-regional rivers is effected on the basis of mutual understanding and co-operation amongst Federal and Regional concerned parties.
  7. Encouraging involvement of the private sector in the development of hydropower.


Overall Objective

T he principal objective of the water resources strategy is to translate the national water resources management policy into action. More specifically, this strategy sets the road map as how to make meaningful contributions towards:

  • Improving the living standard and general socio-economic well being of the Ethiopian people.
  • Realising food self-sufficiency and food security in the country.
  • Extending water supply and sanitation coverage to large segments of the society, thus achieving improved environmental health conditions.
  • Generating additional hydropower.
  • Enhancing the contribution of water resources in attaining national development priorities.
  • Promoting the principles of integrated water resources management.

By doing so, the strategy will be able to make meaningful contributions towards achieving a broader national development objectives of poverty alleviation and sustainable human resources development. Pursuance of these objectives make the water strategy compatible with the national economic development strategy.

More specifically, the objective of the water supply and sanitation sub-sector strategy is to develop viable and implementable guidelines that promote the sustainable, efficient, effective, reliable, affordable and user-acceptable development of water supply and sanitation services, including livestock watering, in Ethiopia .


The overall goal of the Water Resources Strategy is to enhance and promote all national efforts towards the efficient, equitable and optimum utilisation of the available water resources of Ethiopia for significant socio-economic development on a sustainable basis.

Sub Sectoral Strategies



The principal objective of the strategy is to secure basis for the provision of sustainable, efficient, reliable, affordable and users-acceptable WSS services to the Ethiopian people, including livestock watering, in line with the goals and objectives of relevant national and regional development policies.



The principal objective of the irrigation development strategy is to exploit the agricultural production potential of the country to achieve food self sufficiency at the national level, including export earnings, and to satisfy the raw material demand of local industries, but without degrading the fertility and productivity of country's land and water resources base. More specific objectives of the strategy are to: expand irrigated agriculture, improve irrigation water-use efficiency and thus the agricultural production efficiency, develop irrigation systems that are technically and financially sustainable, and address water logging problems in irrigated areas.



The principal objective of the hydropower development strategy is to guide the development of potential hydropower resources as permissible by economic feasibility, and by social and environmental constraints, to meet the present and future domestic demand and, if possible, to generate additional hydropower to cater for the demand of neighboring external markets.



The WSDP defines concrete interventions in terms of projects and programs to achieve the water policy objectives, using the guidelines set under the water sector strategy. The WSDP is a development program with 15 years planning period ranging from 2002-2016. It is divided into three five years development programs:

  • 2002 – 2006 short term
  • 2007 – 2011 medium term and
  • 2012 – 2016 long term

The WSDP is government's commitments and concrete action towards the achievement of the MDG's and the WSSD outcomes and it is also considered as the best tool for resource mobilization and will assist the development partners to target their assistance efficiently.

Components of Water Sector Development Program include

  • WSDP is composed of five major components;
  • Water Supply and Sanitation Development Program
  • Irrigation Development Program
  • Hydropower Development Program
  • Water Resource Development Program
  • Institutional Capacity Building Program


According to the WSSD the National Water Supply Coverage is expected to increase from the 30.9% ( 2002) to 76% at the end of the planning period. The sub components of the WSSD include;

  • Urban Water Supply – urban water supply coverage is expected to grow from 74% at the base year ( 2002) to 98% at the end of the planning period
  • Rural Water Supply – The Rural water supply coverage will grow from the 23% (2002) to 71 % at the completion of WSSD
  • Sewerage services – A substantial improvement in the sanitation overage Is also envisaged at the end of the planning period.


  • Irrigated Agriculture is very important in stimulating sustainable economic growth and rural employment and is the corner stone of food security and poverty reduction.
  • In recognition to this Irrigation Development program is one of the major sub-sectoral component of WSDP.
  • Accordingly different development targets are set on the different planning horizons.
Planning Horizon Small-scale schemes Large and Medium scale schemes Total Area
Short-term 1st five years (2002-2006) 40,319 3,044 53,363
Medium-term 2nd five years (2007-2011) 40,348 39,701 80,049
Long –term 3rd five years (2012-2016) 46,471 94,729 141,200
Total Area to be developed during 2002-2016 127,138 147, 474 274,612
Targets for the Irrigation Development Program (in hectare)


The Hydropower Development Program Aims: to promote the achievement of national socio-economic goals through efficient and sustainable development of water resources to produce Electricity. In line with that various hydropower projects which are geared towards meeting the local demand, the export demand and small hydro development for rural areas are envisaged to be done at different level during the planning period.

  • Accordingly in the WSDP, 6 medium–scale hydropower plants with an aggregate installed capacity of about 950MW, and 15 small-scale hydropower plants (<10MW each) will be constructed, And
  • Feasibility studies of 15 medium – scale hydropower sites;
  • Feasibility studies of 35 small-scale hydropower sites in various regions;
  • Pre-feasibility studies of 18 medium-scale hydropower sites by MoWR;
  • Pre-feasibility studies of 30 small-scale hydropower sites in various regions


The WRDP as a sub-sector covers actions that are multi sectoral in nature and not covered in the other sub-sectors. The principal goal of the WRDP is – to promote conditions for sustainable development and management of a country's water resources so as to maximize economic and social benefits from available water resources, while ensuring that basic human needs are met and the environment is protected. The WRDP includes the following major sub-components in which a number of interventions are proposed under each.

Text Box:    Percentage Share of Various Programs in the WSDP

  • Water resource assessment on
  • Hydrology
  • Meteorology
  • Ground water resource study
  • Flood protection: - which includes flood protection studies and implementation of flood protection projects in the flood prone areas of the country.
  • Master plans for integrated basin development and
  • Water Quality Monitoring.


The ICBP is taken as one of the major components to ensure the successful implementation of WSDP and to maintain sustainable development and mgmt of the water sector. This component includes creating an enabling environment - Legal and regulatory frameworks, establishment of the necessary institutions like:

  • Water Resource Information Centre,
  • Basin development authorities: The policy clearly stated that basin should be considered as the basic planning unit. This is because the basin approach promotes comprehensive development of a large area rather than fragmented development interventions.
  • Water resource research centre
  • Water resources training institute
  • And other capacity building activities.


Total financial requirement for the WSDP over the entire planning period of 2002-2016 are estimated to be US$ 7,444.8 million.


The universal access plan which is based on the rights approach as recommended by commission for sustainable development meeting No 13 & 14 held in New York , USA was prepared by the regional water bureaus and the federal ministry of Water Resources. Sanitation aspects are also drawn from regional health bureaus and the federal ministry of health repots and incorporated into the plan. One can off course refer to the health sector's recently prepared Sanitation plan for details.

  • Duration of the Universal access plan

The first phase Universal access plan is expected to be implemented for seven years from 2005/6 to 20011/12.

  • Target of the Universal access plan

The target of the Universal access Plan is to reach 98% in rural water supply and 100% in urban water Supply and sanitation.

  • Cost of the Universal access plan

The Universal access in Water Supply and Sanitation and Urban settings is expected to cost about 2.5 billion USD

  •   Service level and technology options

In the first phase of the Universal access Plan which lasts for seven years any improved and protected source like traditional dug well is considered as a service level. A high focus on affordable appropriate technology is one of the key strategies the Universal access plan follows in addressing technology options.

In the first phase the following criteria, which would be improved in the 2 nd and subsequent phases would be adopted.


Per capital consumption

Service radius


15 liters /Capital/ day

1.5 km


20 liters /Capital/ day

0.5 km

Partnership in Water Supply Sanitation and Hygiene activities


Earlier disintegrated efforts couldn't result a remarkable impact that enhances better health and productivity. Resources are also getting meager from time to time in all aspects. These situations have obliged stakeholders to form partnership in Water Supply, Sanitation, and hygiene recently.

Memorandum of Understanding ( MOU)

A memorandum of understanding amongst Ministry of Health, Education and Water Resources was signed around the beginning of 2006 opening the way for integrating resources in carrying out water supply, sanitation and hygiene activities through out the country. The signing of the MOU has extended to regions and has started bearing remarkable out comes at the moment.

United Nations Development Assistance from work (UNDAF)

The ministry of Water Resources has joined UNDAF in order to carry out Water Supply, sanitation and hygiene activities with UNICEF, UNDP, WHO and other UN organizations.

Multi Stake Holder Forum ( MSF )

The Ministry of Water Resources has played a key role in establishing MSF in collaboration with European Union (EU) initiative. The MSF has helped to bring donors, governmental organizations, NGOs, and the private sector together for scaling up Water Supply, Sanitation, and hygiene activities through out the country.

Joint Forum (JF)

The World Bank, ADB, UNICEF, and DFID have formed a joint forum for integrating Water Supply Sanitation Programs in the country. The JF is expected to standardize implementation manuals and modalities.


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Web site last updated on: March 18, 2014
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