Road water harvesting in Ethiopia: turning floods and erosion into social and environmental benefits

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Road construction often changes the hydrology and the runoff patterns causing negative effects,among others, on farm lands, infrastructures, and the environment. In many cases, roads cause flooding and water logging along the way, whereas the more concentrated run-off from roadside drains, culverts and bridges leads to land degradation and sedimentation. This negative effect can be turned around by using roads as instruments for water harvesting.

 

Water harvesting leads to better returns to land and labour and a higher ability of people, households and communities to deal with and prosper regardless of schocks and stresses.

 

Harvesting water from roads can also contribute to road longevity. In Ethiopia for instance problematic drainage is the most common factor in construction delays and water is the cause of 35% of the road damage (ERA, 2012). Yet proper drainage on unpaved feeder roads is not only the essence of preventing damage but also creates the opportunities to divert water to adjacent farm land and storage reservoirs.

 

With the investment in roads in many countries exceeding that of any other programmes, there is a large range of opportunities to improve the productive environment and increase the climate resilience of the roadside communities through managing water from roads.

 

To read the full policy note from Roads for Water Consortium, please click here.

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