The role of small scale sand dams in securing water supply under climate change in Ethiopia

Abstract

Community-based water storage in semi arid areas can help to adapt to climate change and mitigate household water shortages. Since little is known on the downstream effects of local water storage, this study employs a water balance model to perform a catchment scale assessment of upscaling local scale water storage in sand dams. The impacts of increasing water storage is evaluated under current climate conditions and future climate change scenarios. Survey information is used to estimate current and future water demand and assess the benefits derived from current sand dams in the Ethiopian study area. Using an indicator of the environmental flow concept, downstream hydrological impacts are simulated for different scenarios. Storage by 613 dams, supplying water to 555,000 people, has no impact on environmental flow downstream of the sand dams. Storage by 2190 dams leads to a modest increase in the number of months with low flow (4 to 9 %). Projected climate change leads to a larger increase in the number of low flow months of 0 to 29 %. Joint climate change and maximum storage scenarios cause an increase in low flow months from 4 to 50 %. Under the most extreme climate change projection 4.5 % of the wet season discharge is stored in sand dams. Because of the local benefits of improved water supply and the acceptable range of downstream impacts, sand dams appear to be a viable way for supplying drinking water in this catchment as well as in other semi-arid regions with similar conditions.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    © Crown copyright 2005, Data provided by the Met Office Hadley Centre.

  2. 2.

    We acknowledge the international modelling groups for providing their data for analysis, the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) for collecting and archiving the model data, the JSC/CLIVAR Working Group on Coupled Modelling (WGCM) and their Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) and Climate Simulation Panel for organising the model data analysis activity, and the IPCC WG1 TSU for technical support. This work, including access to the data and technical assistance, is provided by the Model and Data Group (M&D) at the Max-Planck-Institute for Meteorology, with funding from the Federal Ministry for Education and Research and by the German Climate Computing Centre (DKRZ).

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Acknowledgments

This research would not have been possible without the help in the field of A. Kleene, M. Plug, J.P. van den Ham, N. Gorski, V. de Jong, Getabalew Demissie, and partners of Action for Development in Ethiopia. P. Ward, N. Andela. M. Los, and M. van Putten are acknowledged for their work on climate change and the hydrological model, and J. Vermaat for help on the statistical analysis. Special thanks goes to H. de Moel for his suggestions and assistance. We would like to acknowledge the support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs (ADAPTS – contract 14376/DMW0106407) and the European Commission (WHaTeR – contract 266360).

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Correspondence to Ralph Lasage.

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Supplementary materials B
figure7

Results for Melka Guba for HadCM3 and ECHAM5 model showing mean monthly measured discharge and mean monthly modelled discharges for the period 1972–2006 (JPEG 111 kb)

Supplementary materials C
figure8

Average yearly precipitation projections for Yabello, located in the Dawa Catchment, for three climate change scenarios and historic precipitation based on 20C3M dataset for the ECHAM5 model. The area between dotted lines is 90 % of the distribution (q0.05, q0.95) (JPEG 68 kb)

Supplementary materials D
figure9

Average yearly temperature projections for Yabello for three climate change scenarios and historic temperatures based on the 20C3M data set for the ECHAM5 model (JPEG 68 kb)

Supplementary material E
figure10

Water levels in gauge behind the “Ougelle” sand dam, located in the Dawa catchment on left axis and represented by the solid line on top, and bar graphs of daily precipitation at Yabello station (April 2011 to April 2012) on right axis and represented by bars (JPEG 289 kb)

Supplementary materials A

Script for calculating potential evapo-transpiration in STREAM (DOCX 13 kb)

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Lasage, R., Aerts, J.C.J.H., Verburg, P.H. et al. The role of small scale sand dams in securing water supply under climate change in Ethiopia. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change 20, 317–339 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11027-013-9493-8

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Keywords

  • Water harvesting
  • Adaptation
  • Climate change
  • Catchment model
  • Environmental flow
  • Storage
  • Sand dam