Geographical background

Ethiopia is located in the horn of Africa, bordered by Eritrea to the North, Djibouti and Somalia to the East, Sudan and South Sudan to the West and Kenya to the South. It has a total area of 1.123 million km2 and the total population reaches about 84 million. The people are highly diverse, belonging to over 80 different ethnic groups and speak about 82 different languages where Amharic is the federal working language.

Agriculture is the backbone of the economy, and contributes about 46 % of the country's Gross-Domestic Product and employs more than 85% of the labor force. The production system is dominated by smallholder subsistence based farming practiced under rain fed condition. The rural agriculture is mostly mixed farming consisting of crop and livestock husbandry.

Ethiopian Highlands are sources for 12 river basins (9 wet and 3 dry) with an annual flow of 122 billion cubic meter of surface water, and over 2.6 billion cubic meter of ground water. The country is often referred to as the ‘water tower’ of East Africa because of its wide variety landforms and climatic conditions, creating an extensive river network system throughout the country. Regardless of the abundance of water resources in the country, Ethiopia is still categorised with nations that will face economic water scarcity by the year 2025 (World Water Assessment Program, 2012). Recently the fast growing agricultural and industrial developmental activities put high pressure on aquatic ecosystems in the Highlands of Ethiopia: pollution by domestic and industrial waste, pollution by pesticides and fertilisers, sedimentation and siltation, deforestation and source abandoning, and water abstraction are among the major threats mentioned.