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The Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
"A lake, once almost 10 miles around and 25 feet deep at its center, not to mention its accompanying ecosystem and economy, has vanished."

Common Language Project (CLP):
"Harar Beer Brewery irresponsibly used and polluted Haramaya's water."

VIDEO: Voices from a Vanished Lake from The Common Language Project


AUDIO: Disappearing Lake (World Vision Report)

"Farmers have been blamed for what has happened to the lake, but others share the responsibility. A brewery used lake water to make beer, the city of Harar used Haramaya as its primary source of drinking water. Climate change has only made things worse."

The Death of A Lake: Nobody Took Care of It

"We need to green our politics, because right now development is happening at the expense of the environment."

Lake Haramaya (in Oromia), once more than 10 miles around and 30 feet deep in places, was not a huge lake. But for decades it provided water for Harar, one of Islam's holy cities with a population today of about 100,000. Nearby Haramaya University was named for the lake and a still active university website says the campus overlooks "beautiful Lake Haramaya." But the website is dated 2000. Back then, fishermen worked the lake and farmers relied on it to irrigate their fields.

Now Harar gets by on water drawn from what remains of an underground pool beneath Lake Haramaya's bone-dry basin as it awaits completion of a new system that will pipe water from 30 miles away.

The new system will not provide water for the region's farms. Some farmers have found water by drilling into Lake Haramaya's dry basin. But they have had to buy pumps. Farmers without extra money have watched their crops suffer. Most of the fishermen have moved to another shrinking lake over the next range of rolling hills.

Read the Entire Story (1H2O.org) » » »

Haramaya: Voices from a Vanished Lake

Like most who had a front row seat for Lake Haramaya's destruction, Moges readily presents a long list of guilty parties. He says that Harar Beer Brewery irresponsibly used and polluted Haramaya's water, and he resents farmers who took the lake for granted. But he seems most disillusioned by an apathetic government that stood by and let it happen.

The region's chat revolution in relatively recent. Twenty years ago this area was committed to growing staple food crops by the communist Derg government. When a less centrally dictatorial government came to power in the mid-1990s local farmers became free to follow the market, which led them straight to chat.

In many ways it has been good to the area. The local economy has grown alongside the lucrative mono cash crop. Tacky chat mansions with blue reflective glass windows and oversized columns rise from the landscape, and the towns along newly constructed Harar Road are bustling.

But chat is a mixed blessing. Most problematic are its long, anchored roots which require concentrated watering. This demand is intensified by chat's ability, with heavy irrigation, to produce multiple harvests throughout the year. International chat prices skyrocket during the dry season, meaning that the motivation among farmers for water use is strongest when the land is least capable of providing.

"You see, in order to grow chat, in order to irrigate chat you need to extract lots and lots of water, and water is free,"says Dr. Tena Alamirew, Academic and Research Vice President of Haramaya University, which sits beside the empty lake.

"During the Communist regime there was the law of common property—nobody was thought to own the water so everybody just took out however much they want," says Professor Tena,. "Today, as long as they can fuel their pumps it's still all free, so nobody gave even the slightest attention until the end, until the very last moment."

Read the Entire Story (CLP) » » »

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