Project Motivation

Exposure to elevated levels of toxic and naturally occurring inorganic constituents in drinking water resources is an important environmental issues that endanger human health.  The Main Ethiopian Rift is an example where a large population (more than 8 million) are regularly exposed to naturally occurring contaminants such as arsenic and fluoride.  The geological formation in the Main Ethiopian Rift area is composed of volcanic materials and associated with geothermal activities that release these toxic elements into the environment (sediments/soils/waters).

Groundwater resources in Ethiopia have important strategic implications since Ethiopia’s future development depends on a significant increase in water utilization and surface water utilization is limited by the historical water use of the downstream counties (e.g., the Blue Nile to Sudan and Egypt).  Yet the water quality of the groundwater and the health implications is a major constraint for such future development.

It is therefore necessary to investigate the mechanisms in which these toxic elements are mobilized into groundwater and the relationships between aquifer geology, water quality, and health.  Understanding these processes is crucial for the evaluation of human health risks and ecosystem effects of inorganic contaminants, and furthermore, for the development of rational and cost-effective remediation strategies for contaminated groundwater. In addition, climate change may alter patterns of access to and usage of water.

This project will also help to target safe groundwater, and would provide reliable information to policy makers for addressing the issues and effective water resources management of the Ethiopian Rift.