Causes, negative effects, and preventive methods of water pollution in Ethiopia

Main Article Content

Alemu Talema


Ethiopia, prevention methods, water pollution, water quality


Water is a finite resource necessary for life and sustainable development. Ethiopia has considerable potential for freshwater resources in East Africa. All living beings depend on water for growth and upkeep, and it is essential for supporting environmental balance and biodiversity. Ethiopia does not able to offer clean water to half of its population, and it does not make good use of its water resources. Many Ethiopians who live in urban areas struggle to have access to a consistent and adequate quantity of drinking water. Only a small number of city dwellers have access to enough of clean water. Both human activity and natural events may contaminate water. In developing nations, a major concern for public health and water security is the degradation of quality of water brought on by human activities and weak enforcement. The effectiveness of policies and institutional frameworks to address pollution, as well as their effects on the ecological status and biota of rivers, are little understood in spite of growing pollution levels in many tropical African nations. This article focuses on giving an outline of the reasons for Ethiopia’s water pollution and ways to stop it.


Download data is not yet available.
Abstract 2753 | PDF Downloads 247 HTML Downloads 63 XML Downloads 18


Abiye, W., 2021. Hydrobiological issues in Ethiopia: in case of human and natural associated issues on fish production. Journal of Aquaculture & Fisheries 5(043): 2. 10.24966/AAF-5523/100043

Ademe, A.S. and Alemayehu, M., 2014. Source and determinants of water pollution in Ethiopia: distributed lag modeling approach. Intellectual Property Rights 2: 110. (Open Access). 10.4172/2375-4516.1000110

Agrawal, A., Pandey, R.S. and Sharma, B., 2010. Water pollution with special reference to pesticide contamination in India. Journal of Water Resource and Protection 2(5): 432–448. 10.4236/jwarp.2010.25050

Agumassie, T., 2019. Water quality problems, related challenges and their impacts on Ethiopian fishery. African Journal of Environmental Science and Technology 13(2): 66–73. 10.5897/AJEST2018.2606

Ahmed, S. and Ismail, S., 2018. Water pollution and its sources, effects & management: a case study of Delhi. International Journal of Current Advanced Research 7(2): 10436–10442.

Alebel, A., Tesema, C., Temesgen, B., Gebrie, A., Petrucka, P. and Kibret, G.D., 2018. Prevalence and determinants of diarrhea among under-five children in Ethiopia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS One 13(6): e0199684. 10.1371/journal.pone.0199684

Al-Hindi, A.I., 2017. Epidemiology of acute diarrheal diseases among children under five in Gaza strip: post war community based study. Scholars Journal of Applied Medical Sciences (SJAMS) 5(2B): 442–452. 10.21276/sjams.2017.5.2.29

Amare, M.E., 2020. Causes and effects of water pollution on human health and the aquatic ecosystems: the case of Bahirdar satellite town, Blue Nile ‘Abbay’ river basin. MSc thesis, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 79 p.

Amoatey, P. and Baawain, M.S., 2019. Effects of pollution on freshwater aquatic organisms. Water Environment Research 91(10): 1272–1287. 10.1002/wer.1221

Ara, S., Khan, M.A. and Zargar, M.Y., 2004. Physico-chemical characteristics of Dal lake water. In: Kumar, A. (ed.) Water pollution APH Publishing, New Delhi, India, pp.159–164.

Asfaha, K.F., Tesfamichael, F.A., Fisseha, G.K., Misgina, K.H., Weldu, M.G., Welehaweria, N.B., et al. 2018. Determinants of childhood diarrhea in Medebay Zana District, Northwest Tigray, Ethiopia: a community based unmatched case-control study. BMC Pediatrics 18(1): 1–9. 10.1186/s12887-018-1098-7

Asnake, K., Worku, H. and Argaw, M., 2021. Assessing the impact of watershed land use on Kebena river water quality in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Environmental Systems Research 10(1): 1–14. 10.1186/s40068-020-00208-y

Assegide, E., Alamirew, T., Bayabil, H., Dile, Y.T., Tessema, B. and Zeleke, G., 2022. Impacts of surface water quality in the Awash river basin, Ethiopia: a systematic review. Frontiers in Water 3: 790900. 10.3389/frwa.2021.790900

Aziz, F.A.A., Ahmad, N.A., Razak, M.A.A., Omar, M., Kasim, N.M., Yusof, M., et al. 2018. Prevalence of and factors associated with diarrhoeal diseases among children under five in Malaysia: a cross-sectional study 2016. BMC Public Health 18(1): 1–8. 10.1186/s12889-018-6266-z.

Bartlett, S., 2003. Water, sanitation and urban children: the need to go beyond “improved” provision. Environment and Urbanization 15(2): 57–70. 10.1177/095624780301500220

Belete, M., 2020. Water pollution and its impact: a case study of wuseta river in debre markos town, amara regional state, Ethiopia:1–22 pp.

Central Statistical Agency (CSA), 2014. Ethiopia mini demographic and health survey. CSA and MoH, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Chebet, E.B., Kibet, J.K. and Mbui, D., 2020. The assessment of water quality in river Molo water basin, Kenya. Applied Water Science, 10(4): 1–10. 10.1007/s13201-020-1173-8

Chen, B., Wang, M., Duan, M., Ma, X., Hong, J., Xie, F., et al. 2019. In search of key: protecting human health and the ecosystem from water pollution in China. Journal of Cleaner Production 228: 101–111. 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.04.228

Chowdhary, P., Bharagava, R.N., Mishra, S. and Khan, N., 2020. Role of industries in water scarcity and its adverse effects on environment and human health. In: Environmental concerns and sustainable development. Springer, Singapore, pp. 235–256 (Editors: Dr. Vertika Shukla, and Dr. Narendra Kumar). 10.1007/978-981-13-5889-0_12

Dagnew, A.B., Tewabe, T., Miskir, Y., Eshetu, T., Kefelegn, W., Zerihun, K., et al. 2019. Prevalence of diarrhea and associated factors among under-five children in Bahir Dar city, Northwest Ethiopia, 2016: a cross-sectional study. BMC Infectious Diseases 19(1): 1–7. 10.1186/s12879-019-4030-3

Danquah, L. (2010). The causes and health effects of river pollution: A case study of the Aboabo River, Kumasi (Unpublished master’s thesis). Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.

Dwivedi, S., Mishra, S. and Tripathi, R.D., 2018. Ganga water pollution: a potential health threat to inhabitants of Ganga basin. Environment International 117: 327–338. 10.1016/j.envint.2018.05.015

Edokpayi, J.N., Odiyo, J.O. and Durowoju, O.S., 2017. Impact of wastewater on surface water quality in developing countries: a case study of South Africa. Water Quality 10: 66561. 10.5772/66561

Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), 2005. Assessment report on the status of Little Akaki rivers waters pollution. EPA, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Eriksson, M. and Sigvant, J., 2019. Causes and impact of surface water pollution in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Central Statistical Agency (CSA) [Ethiopia] and ICF. 2016. Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey 2016. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Rockville, Maryland, USA: CSA and ICF.

Fenta, A., Alemu, K. and Angaw, D.A., 2020. Prevalence and associated factors of acute diarrhea among under-five children in Kamashi district, western Ethiopia: community-based study. BMC Pediatrics 20(1): 1–7. 10.1186/s12887-020-02138-1

Fenta, S.M. and Nigussie, T.Z., 2021. Factors associated with childhood diarrheal in Ethiopia: a multilevel analysis. Archives of Public Health 79(1): 1–12. 10.1186/s13690-021-00566-8

Fontoura, V.M., Graepp-Fontoura, I., Santos, F.S., Santos Neto, M., Tavares, H.S.D.A., Bezerra, M.O.L., et al. 2018. Socio-environmental factors and diarrheal diseases in under five-year old children in the state of Tocantins, Brazil. PLoS One 13(5): e0196702. 10.1371/journal.pone.0196702

Gangwar, R.K., Khare, P., Singh, J. and Singh, A.P., 2012. Assessment of physico-chemical properties of water: river Ramganga at Bareilly, UP. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research 4(9): 4231–4234.

Garg, M., 2012. Water pollution in India: causes and remedies. International Journal of Physical and Social Sciences 2(6): 556.

Gashaye, D., 2020. Wastewater-irrigated urban vegetable farming in Ethiopia: a review on their potential contamination and health effects. Cogent Food & Agriculture 6(1): 1772629. 10.1080/23311932.2020.1772629

Getachew, A., Tadie, A., Hiwot, M.G., Guadu, T., Haile, D., Cherkos, T.G., et al. 2018. Environmental factors of diarrhea prevalence among under five children in rural area of North Gondar zone, Ethiopia. Italian Journal of Pediatrics 44(1): 1–7. 10.1186/s13052-018-0540-7

Girma, M., Gobena, T., Medhin, G., Gasana, J. and Roba, K.T., 2018. Determinants of childhood diarrhea in West Gojjam, Northwest Ethiopia: a case control study. Pan African Medical Journal 30: 234. doi: 10.11604/pamj.2018.30.234.14109

Gundry, S., Wright, J. and Conroy, R., 2004. A systematic review of the health outcomes related to household water quality in developing countries. Journal of Water and Health 2(1): 1–13. 10.2166/wh.2004.0001

Hadis, S., Tesfaye, M. and Hailu, S., 2019. River pollution in Ethiopia: an exploratory assessment of the causes and effects on environmental sustainability. Social Sciences 8(5): 226–233. 10.11648/

Halder, J.N. and Islam, M.N., 2015. Water pollution and its impact on the human health. Journal of Environment and Human 2(1): 36–46. 10.15764/EH.2015.01005

Hasan, M.K., Shahriar, A. and Jim, K.U., 2019. Water pollution in Bangladesh and its impact on public health. Heliyon 5(8): e02145. 10.1016/j.heliyon.2019.e02145

Igwe, P.U., Chukwudi, C.C., Ifenatuorah, F.C., Fagbeja, I.F. and Okeke, C.A., 2017. A review of environmental effects of surface water pollution. International Journal of Advanced Engineering Research and Science 4(12): 237340. 10.22161/ijaers.4.12.21

Islam, M., Idris, A.M., Islam, A.R.M., Ali, M.M., Rakib, M. and Jahan, R., 2021. Hydrological distribution of physicochemical parameters and heavy metals in surface water and their ecotoxicological implications in the Bay of Bengal coast of Bangladesh. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 28(48): 68585–68599. 10.1007/s11356-021-15353-9

Islam, A.R.M.T., Islam, H.T., Mia, M.U., Khan, R., Habib, M.A., Bodrud-Doza, M., et al. 2020. Co-distribution, possible origins, status and potential health risk of trace elements in surface water sources from six major river basins, Bangladesh. Chemosphere 249: 126180. 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2020.126180

Jalan, J. and Ravallion, M., 2003. Does piped water reduce diarrhea for children in rural India? Journal of Econometrics 112(1): 153–173. 10.1016/S0304-4076(02)00158-6

Khan, M.A., 1996. Recent biolimnological pollution trends in the Kashmir Himalayan Dal Lake ecosystem: development of red bloom. Energy, ecology and environment 22: 41–77.

Khatun, R., 2017. Water pollution: causes, consequences, prevention method and role of WBPHED with special reference from Murshidabad district. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications 7(8): 269–270.

Kumar, S., Islam, A.R.M.T., Hasanuzzaman, M., Salam, R., Khan, R. and Islam, M.S., 2021. Preliminary assessment of heavy metals in surface water and sediment in Nakuvadra-Rakiraki river, Fiji using indexical and chemometric approaches. Journal of Environmental Management 298: 113517. 10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.113517

Maschal Tarekegn, M. and Truye, A.Z., 2018. Causes and impacts of Shankila river water pollution in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Journal of Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation 2(4): 21–30.

Mekonnen, E.T., Temesgen, S.A. and Zhenbin, W.U., 2020. An overview of water pollution status in Ethiopia with a particular emphasis on Akaki river: a review. Ethiopian Journal of Public Health and Nutrition 3(2): 120–128.

Mekuriaw, T. and Gokcekus, H., 2019. The impact of urban expansion on physical environment in Debre Markos town, Ethiopia. Civil and Environmental Research 11: 16–26.

Melese, B., Paulos, W., Astawesegn, F.H. and Gelgelu, T.B., 2019. Prevalence of diarrheal diseases and associated factors among under-five children in Dale district, Sidama zone, Southern Ethiopia: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health 19(1): 1–10. 10.1186/s12889-019-7579-2

Mengistie, B., Berhane, Y. and Worku, A., 2013. Prevalence of diarrhea and associated risk factors among children under-five years of age in Eastern Ethiopia: a cross-sectional study. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine 3(07): 446. 10.4236/ojpm.2013.37060

Mitiku, A.A., 2020. A review on water pollution: causes, effects and treatment methods. International International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review and Research 60(2): 94–101.

Mohammed, S. and Handiso, S., 2018. A study on the causes of water pollution and its effects on public health in cases Kebena river, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. International Journal of Environmental Sciences 7(3): 84–89.

Moss, B., 2008. Water pollution by agriculture. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 363(1491): 659–666. 10.1098/rstb.2007.2176

Mulu, A., Ayenew, T. and Berhe, S., 2013. Impact of slaughterhouses effluent on water quality of Modjo and Akaki river in Central Ethiopia. International Journal of Scientific Research 6: 2319–7064.

Omer, A.M., 2001. Solar water pumping clean water for Sudan rural areas. Renewable Energy 24(2): 245–258. 10.1016/S0960-1481(00)00095-1

Owa, F.W., 2014. Water pollution: sources, effects, control and management. International Letters of Natural Sciences 8: 1–6. 10.18052/

Pareek, R.K., Khan, A.S. and Srivastava, P., 2020. Impact on human health due to Ghaggar water pollution. Current World Environment 15(2): 211. 10.12944/CWE.15.2.08

Parris, K., 2011. Improving the information base to better guide water resource management decision-making. International Journal of Water Resources Development 27(4): 625–632.

Prabu, P.C., Wondimu, L. and Tesso, M., 2011. Assessment of water quality of Huluka and Alaltu rivers of Ambo, Ethiopia. Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology 13(1): 131–138.

Rakhecha, P.R., 2020. Water environment pollution with its impact on human diseases in India. International Journal of Hydrology 4(4): 152–158. 10.15406/ijh.2020.04.00240

Raouf, M.E.A., Maysour, N.E., Farag, R.K. and Abdul-Raheim, A.M., 2019. Wastewater treatment methodologies, review article. International Journal of Environmental & Agricultural Science 3: 18.

Said, R., 2013. The River Nile: geology, hydrology and utilization. Elsevier, Cambridge, MA.

Shako, G.M. and Ping, F., 2021. Ethiopia water resources quantitative potentials, management issues and challenges. A literature review of article paper. International Journal of Scientific Research Publications (IJSRP) 11(2). 10.29322/IJSRP.11.02.2021.p11008

Shine, S., Muhamud, S., Adanew, S., Demelash, A. and Abate, M., 2020. Prevalence and associated factors of diarrhea among under-five children in Debre Berhan town, Ethiopia 2018: a cross sectional study. BMC Infectious Diseases 20(1): 1–6. 10.1186/s12879-020-4905-3

Siraj, K.T. and Rao, P.P., 2016. Review on water resources and sources for safe drinking and improved sanitation in Ethiopia. International Journal of Applied Research 2: 78–82.

Stevenson, A.H., 1953. Studies of bathing water quality and health. American Journal of Public Health and the Nations Health 43(5-Pt-1): 529–538. 10.2105/AJPH.43.5_Pt_1.529

Tadesse, M., Tsegaye, D. and Girma, G., 2018. Assessment of the level of some physico-chemical parameters and heavy metals of Rebu river in oromia region, Ethiopia. MOJ Biology and Medicine 3(3): 99–118. 10.15406/mojbm.2018.03.00085

Tafere, Y., Abebe Abate, B., Demelash Enyew, H. and Belete Mekonnen, A., 2020. Diarrheal diseases in under-five children and associated factors among Farta district rural community, Amhara regional state, north central Ethiopia: a comparative cross-sectional study. Journal of Environmental and Public Health 2020(1):1–7. 10.1155/2020/6027079

Tamiru, A., Dagnachew, L., Tenalem, A., Yirga, T., Solomon, W. and Nuri, M., 2004. Scientific report on the assessment of pollution status and groundwater vulnerability mapping of the Addis Ababa water supply aquifers. Ethiopia. Available at:

Teklemariam, S., Getaneh, T. and Bekele, F., 2000. Environmental determinants of diarrheal morbidity in under-five children, Keffa-Sheka zone, south west Ethiopia. Ethiopian Medical Journal 38(1): 27–34.

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), 1992. Prevention and control of water pollution from fertilizers and pesticides: final report of the task force with Germany as lead country. 14 Sept, 9-14. [E/ECE/]ENVWA/WP.3/R.29.

Wanzahun, G., Bezatu, M., 2013. Environmental Factors Associated with Acute Diarrhea among Children Under Five Years of Age in Derashe District, Southern Ethiopia, Science Journal of Public Health 1(3):119–124. 10.11648/j.sjph.20130103.12

United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), 2018. Diarrhoeal disease., Accessed 20th May 2018.

Waddington, H., Snilstveit, B., White, H. and Fewtrell, L., 2009. Water, sanitation and hygiene interventions to combat childhood diarrhoea in developing countries. International Initiative for Impact Evaluation, New Delhi, India.

Wassie, T.A., 2008. Comparative study of macro invertebrates and diatoms as bioindicators of river water quality in Addis Ababa. MSc thesis, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The World Bank, 2007. Cost of Pollution in China: Economic Estimates of Physical Damages; World Bank Publications: Washington, DC, USA.

World Health Organization (WHO), 2014. CHERG-WHO methods and data sources for child causes of death 2000–2012. Global Health Estimates Technical Paper.

World Health Organization (WHO), 2007. Diarrhoeal disease.

Yassin, MM., Amr, S. S. A., and Al-Najar, H. M., 2006. Assessment of Microbiological Water Quality and its Relation to Human Health in Gaza Governorate, Gaza Strip. Public Health., 120(12): 1177–1187. 10.1016/j.puhe.2006.07.026

Yau, V., Wade, T.J., de Wilde, C.K. and Colford, J.M., 2009. Skin-related symptoms following exposure to recreational water: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Water Quality, Exposure and Health 1(2): 79–103. 10.1007/s12403-009-0012-9

Yimer, Y.A. and Jin, L., 2020. Impact of Lake Beseka on the water quality of Awash river, Ethiopia. American Journal of Water Resources 8(1): 21–30.

Yohannes, H. and Elias, E., 2017. Contamination of rivers and water reservoirs in and around Addis Ababa City and actions to combat it. Environment Pollution and Climate Change 1(116): 8. 10.4172/2753-458X.1000116

Zaveri, E.D., Russ, J.D., Desbureaux, S.G., Damania, R., Rodella, A.S. and Ribeiro Paiva De Souza, G., 2020. The nitrogen legacy: the long-term effects of water pollution on human capital. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 9143. World Bank, Washington DC. 10.1596/1813-9450-9143