Diaspora Community Extends Hands to Save Tana

The coalition donates the second machine that will mow and grind the weed

The Global Coalition for Lake Tana Restoration, a non-profit organisation, established by water and environment professionals in the United States, procured the second machine to remove water hyacinth, popularly known as Emboch, from Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia.

After a fundraising event that brought 1,500 people and some artists including Muhammud Ahmed together in Washington DC, the coalition procured the machine. The machine was purchased from a Canadian vendor for a total cost of 92,350 dollars.

A month prior the Coalition bought a similar machine for 67,290 dollars and had it shipped to Ethiopia. The recently purchased machine is different in that it comes with a conveyor belt to transport removed hyacinth to the shore which the first machine did not have.

The first machine which was purchased a month ago is expected to arrive Djibouti port by the end of this month, according to Solomon Kibret (PhD) chair of the Coalition. Which was established eight months ago and currently has 20 members.

The water hyacinth was first seen on Tana at Chera kebele of Dembya woreda six years ago. Water hyacinth covered a significant swath of the lake’s northern and northeastern shores. Recently the weed has expanded to Abay River, unto the edges of the Tis Abay Falls.

Tana is the second largest lake in Africa covering 3,000 square kilometres with a catchment area of 15,000 square kilometres. Tana basin connects about two million people, the majority of whom subsist on agriculture. The lake is also used for hydropower generation and supports large-scale irrigation schemes in the lowland agricultural areas.

According to the data from the Coalition over 5,000ha of the lake, which covers eighteen kebeles, is infested with the weed mainly in the northern and eastern shores of the lake. Because of the weed, the fish stock dropped from 13,000tn to less than 1,000tn a year, according to the same source.

The weed has a nature of propagating intensively during the rainy season – doubling itself in one to two weeks.

“Wet buffer zones have transitioned to dry land – at least 500ha of the lakeshore has turned to dry land last year alone,” said Solomon.

The main factor that creates favourable condition for the weed is the high nutrients such as nitrate and potassium inflow brought in by the rivers that feed into the lake, according to Solomon.

“We fear that the currently infested areas could double in the upcoming rainy season if aggressive measures are not taken,” said Solomon.

A machine that is currently mowing and grinding the weed was donated by a local firm Amaga Plc. The company engages with manufacturing importing, exporting, local distribution, cargo transportation and real estate.

In addition to the machines, the regional state is planning to use additional biological methods, Such as insects to clear the weed and chemical, by using herbicides, according to Belayneh Ayele (PhD), head of Amhara Environment Forest & Wildlife Protection Development Authority.

Desalegn Chane (PhD), asst proffessor of integrated water resource management at Bahir Dar University’s Institute of Disaster Risk Management & Food Security Studies, comprehends the immediate move of procuring the machines, but he believes that it is not a sustainable solution.

“Integrated watershed management and different natural resource conservation tasks, are the only sustainable solutions to protect the lake,” Desalegn noted.


Published on Apr 28,2018 [ Vol 18 ,No 939]



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