In evaluating the impacts of the project, a set of questions were prepared and an interview was conducted with a staff of Mekelle Water Supply and Sanitation Office. The discussion was on the main components of the effects of the projects on water availability in the city—which revolved around the impact of the additional boreholes, human capacity in the office, the environmental impacts of the projects, the influence of the donors and the cost of the project. Review of the annual business report of the office was another method adopted in evaluating the effects of the water projects in the city.
Evaluation of the water sub-project
With the completion of the project, total boreholes which supplied the city with potable water are currently 17 with the total average yield of 329,330 m3 per month (approximately, 3,951,954 m3 year −1) (Mekelle Water Supply and Sanitation Office 2015). This shows the significant increase in water supply in the city because of the project. However, the increase in water supply has not been able to meet up with the already established and increasing demand. The current daily water demand—by the approximate 54,073 residential customers, different governmental and non-governmental organisations, industries and service companies—stands at a ~42,000 m3, which is ~1,260,000 m3 month−1.
Despite the additional boreholes and increase in water supply, the other main challenges facing the success of the water projects include (after Sori 2012):
The limited capacity of Tigray Water Bureau in terms of human capital and expertise At the time of interview, the bureau had only one (1) water resource manager, two (2) hydrogeologists and four (4) process operators. This finding is not strange as this has been observed to be a phenomenon hampering the efficiency and effectiveness of many African water ministries and parastatals. For example, Mbuvi et al. (2012) observed that many utility industries in Africa face technical inefficiency challenges which hamper the effective supply of water services to urban populations.
Insufficient cost recovery for proper operation and maintenance of the projects In Mekelle, the commercialisation of water services is viewed as a potential of causing tensions as water supply is considered as the public good. This kind of disposition between cost recovery and service rendering combine with inadequate public investments and water price increases have not made the World Bank intervention in the borehole construction to yield the stated aim and desired results in Mekelle Water supplies. This form of challenge is what Mollinga (2008) referred to as the challenge of governance.
The different policies and procedures adopted by other international donors either resulted in the disregard for the population’s pressing needs or at times contradicted the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. There was no record of prioritisation investigation in assessing the most critical uncertainties that may affect the projects. Specifically, uncontrolled demand scenarios, indigenous innovations, sustainable behaviour and local resilience (as suggested by Van der Heijden 1996; Baguma et al. 2013) were not taken into consideration at the inception, during and after the project.
Loss of land/farmlands and lack of compensations because of the projects which directly affect the livelihood is another challenge arising from the projects. Although the farmlands lost to the project are minimal, there are still relative current complaints on the compensation paid to the owners of the lands. For example, two complaints were still being attended to at the time of interview. One, a household that stated he was compensated for the land acquired for the well drilling but not compensated for the crop damaged during the process. Two, a farmland owner complained that he was compensated for one season harvest lost while he could not use the land when the drilling of the wells and construction of the pipelines, generator houses, etc. were in process. However, these complaints are being dealt with by the Mekelle Water Supply and Sanitation Office.
Another impact of the projects raised by the host communities is that most of the sites (villages) of the boreholes were not provided with the pipeborne water that is channelled to the city, which causes a bit of grievance for the local communities. However, further investigation revealed that the project areas are now provided with communal taps which greatly help in saving time that would naturally be spent in fetching water from unclean sources and thereby also protect the local communities from any water-related diseases.