CPWF Working Paper No. 1. Mitigating the Effects of hydrologic Variability in Ethiopia.


The focus of this work is to evaluate relevant investments in agriculture, transportation, energy, and forecast modeling that may lead to a country less vulnerable to hydrologic variability. Controlling or preventing hydrologic variability is improbable, as it is a product of climatic conditions; combating the devastating effects of this variability, both physically and economically, however, does appear feasible. Irrigation of crops leads to less susceptibility in dry or drought years, while transportation infrastructure allows a product to reach a market, even in wet periods. Energy development, specifically through hydropower, leads to a sustainable electrical source and streamflow management. Finally, a forecast model, devised for prediction of seasonal rains, provides crucial cropping information to farmers concerning quality and quantity.

This paper is divided into two sections. The first section outlines factors that lead to hydrologic variability and, when tied to current practices, how it creates conditions of vulnerability. The goal of the section is to qualitatively depict the current state of affairs governed by this variability. Chapter 2 briefly assesses the climatic conditions of the country and their predominant effects on agriculture and the economy. Chapter 3 presents the depletion and loss of critical natural resources that are exacerbated by hydrologic variability.

The second section, which constitutes the bulk of this paper, focuses on evaluation of potential investments that may help to mitigate or alleviate some of Ethiopia’s vulnerability to hydrologic variability. Each chapter addresses a separate investment project and policy, which attempts to negate the effects of hydrologic variability by boosting the economy, either on a country-wide scale, or on an individual farmer basis. Chapter 4 weighs investment in irrigation for agriculture versus investment in roads by means of a benefit-cost analysis and the ensuing investment effect on common economic indicators. Chapter 5 explores the possibilities of investment in hydropower and irrigation, with project success measured by benefit-cost ratios and resulting multipliers on gross domestic product. Chapter 6, the final investment strategy evaluated, focuses on a local level, demonstrating the benefits of including a precipitation forecast in farm planning. The paper finishes with a concluding chapter.


CPWF Working Paper 01. The CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food, Colombo, Sri Lanka. 53 pp.

CPWF Working Paper No. 1. Mitigating the Effects of hydrologic Variability in Ethiopia.

Published 1 January 2008