One significant trend putting pressure on water and sanitation provision in many parts of the world is population growth. As you can see in Figure 15.1, Ethiopia shows a steepening curve as the population grows each year. This puts ever-growing demands on limited resources, including water.
How would you summarise the availability of water resources in Ethiopia?
From Study Session 2, you may remember that Ethiopia as a whole has plentiful water resources, but these are not distributed evenly throughout the country either geographically or seasonally.
In areas where there are limited resources and demand is high, water use can lead to depletion of groundwater resources. Groundwater depletion means that the stores of water held underground within the rocks are gradually reduced because too much water has been extracted via wells and boreholes. This leads to a lowering of the water table so that wells have to be dug or drilled deeper and deeper before water is found.
As well as the added direct demand for water to meet basic needs, an increasing population can also lead to growing competition for water for other purposes such as agriculture and industry. Greater use of irrigation in order to grow more food to feed a larger number of people can mean that less is available for water supply. In the longer term, the OWNP, and any WASH programmes that follow it, will have to adjust to the continuing increase in demand from the growing population.