04 April 2014 Development News Items


A Giant Basket That Uses Condensation to Gather Drinking Water



Around the world, 768 million people don’t have access to safe water, and every day 1,400 children under the age of five die from water-based diseases. Designer Arturo Vittori believes the solution to this catastrophe lies not in high technology, but in sculptures that look like giant-sized objects from the pages of a Pier 1 catalog.

His stunning water towers stand nearly 30 feet tall and can collect over 25 gallons of potable water per day by harvesting atmospheric water vapor. Called WarkaWater towers, each pillar is comprised of two sections: a semi-rigid exoskeleton built by tying stalks of juncus or bamboo together and an internal plastic mesh, reminiscent of the bags oranges come in. The nylon and polypropylene fibers act as a scaffold for condensation, and as the droplets of dew form, they follow the mesh into a basin at the base of the structure.


Vittori decided to devote his attention to this problem after visiting northeastern Ethiopia and seeing the plight of remote villagers first hand. “There, people live in a beautiful natural environment but often without running water, electricity, a toilet or a shower,” he says. To survive, women and their children walk for miles to worm-filled ponds contaminated with human waste, collect water in trashed plastic containers or dried gourds, and carry the heavy containers on treacherous roads back to their homes. This process takes hours and endangers the children by exposing them to dangerous illnesses and taking them away from school, ensuring that a cycle of poverty repeats.

Exposure to this horrific scene motivated Vittori to take action. “WarkaWater is designed to provide clean water as well as ensure long-term environmental, financial and social sustainability,” he says. “Once locals have the necessary know how, they will be able to teach others villages and communities to build the WarkaWater towers.” Each tower costs approximately $550 and can be built in under a week with a four-person team and locally available materials.

A more obvious solution to a water shortage would be digging a well, but drilling 1,500 feet into Ethiopia’s rocky plateaus is expensive. Even when a well is dug, maintaining pumps and ensuring a reliable electrical connection makes the proposition unlikely.


Instead of looking to Western technology for a solution, Vittori was inspired by the Warka tree, a giant, gravity-defying domed tree native to Ethiopia that sprouts figs and is used as a community gathering space. “To make people independent, especially in such a rural context it’s synonymous of a sustainable project and guaranties the longevity,” says Vittori. “Using natural fibers helps the tower to be integrated with the landscape both visually with the natural context as well as with local traditional techniques.”

The design has been two years in the making and though the final product is handcrafted, Vittori has used the same parametric modeling skills honed working on aircraft interiors and solar powered cars to create a solution that is safe and stunning. The 88-pound sculpture is 26-feet wide at its broadest point but swoops dramatically to just a few feet across at its smallest point. Vittori and his team have tested the design in multiple locations and worked in improvements that increase the frame’s stability while simultaneously making it easy for villagers to clean the internal mesh.

Vittori hopes to have two WarkaTowers erected in Ethiopia by 2015 and is looking for financial rainmakers who’d like to seed these tree-inspired structures across the country.



Islamic banking booming in Ethiopia


Islamic banking booming in Ethiopia

Islamic banking was introduced in Ethiopia in 2013 in an effort to meet the demand of Muslim clients for usury-free banking services.

World Bulletin / News Desk

The newly-introduced Islamic banking is booming in Christian-majority Ethiopia, the head of a private bank said.

“The Oromia International Bank managed to mobilize 300 million Birr within two months since it introduced the new banking service last December,” Nuri Hussein, the acting director of the bank’s interest-free banking department, told Anadolu Agency.

“Currently, the Islamic banking service is being offered at 46 branches of the bank,” he said, going on to say that the number of branches offering the service will increase to 73 by July.

Islamic banking was introduced in Ethiopia in 2013 in an effort to meet the demand of Muslim clients for usury-free banking services.

Muslims are forbidden by their religion from usury, receiving or paying interest on loans.

“The service is generally targeting the Missing Middle, which refers to the financing gap in capital in emerging markets that lies above micro-finance and below traditional institutional financing,” Hussein said.

According to the bank executive, some foreign investors and embassies are asking for information about Islamic banking.

“We have more than 4,000 customers, who have deposited in the Islamic banking program,” he said. “Customers are now depositing on average 2 – 2.5 million Birr on daily basis.”

Established in 2008, the Oromia International Bank is the first private bank to implement interest-free banking in the Horn of Africa country.



Locomotives reach Ethiopia by road


Addis Ababa, 3 March 2014 (WIC) – Five Chinese-built diesel locomotives for use on railway construction projects in Ethiopia have been delivered by road from the port of Djibouti by logistics company Steder Group FZCO.

The locomotives weigh from 85 tonnes to 135 tonnes, and were carried on Steder Group’s multi-axle trailers after being unloaded from the ship.



Authority collects 204 bln birr revenue 


The Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA) said it has earned 204 billion birr revenue during the past three and half years of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) period.

Authority Education and Communication Directorate Director, Ephrem Mekonnen, told WIC that the revenue was collected from domestic tax, foreign trade and lottery sales.

The revenue collected in the reported period surpassed it target by 2 billion birr, he said.

According to Ephrem, the authority had collected 50 billion birr in the first year of the GTP period. The plan was to collect 45 billion birr.

During the second year of the GTP period, the authority fully attained its target of collecting 70 billion birr, he said.

Though the authority’s plan was to collect 87 birr during the third year of the GTP period, it managed to rake 84 billion birr, he said.

Ephrem, the authority has set a plan to collect 101 billion birr and 420 billion birr this Ethiopian budget and at the end of the GTP period, respectively.



Electronics single window service said transforms import-export trade


“The electronics single window service allows traders to submit all import-export and transit information required by regulatory agencies via a single electronic gate way,” said Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority Deputy Director General Kaydaki Gezahegn.

In his opening remark at the ‘Ethiopia Electronics Single Window for International Trade’ workshop held here yesterday, Kaydaki said apart from facilitating trade, the electronic single window system ensures transparent import-export transaction and regulation. He also indicated that the system helps to minimize incidences of corruption in the trade logistics chain. “As a result of the implementation of the single window system, it is possible to reduce time and cost. Besides, the proper implementation of the system enables local exporters to be competent in international markets and also imported goods affordable to local consumers,” he added.

Outlining the importance of the system, Ethiopian Electronics Single Window for International Trade Project Project Manager Nigussie Seid said the system reduces the 37 days required for document preparation for import-export regulatory agencies to less than ten days thereby saving time and money. It also helps the government reduce administrative cost and ensure transparency, he added.

However, Nigussie indicated that system telecom infrastructure and possible public reluctance to change were challenges identified and need to be resolved.

Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (ECCSA) Advocacy Specialist Tamiru Woubbie on his part said that the system helps the private sector to be competitive in the international market. Nonetheless, Tamiru underlined the need for creating business community awareness and introducing electronic payment and signature including other legal frameworks to fully utilize the system.

Lauding the government’s commitment to the realization of the project, International Financial Corporation (IFC) Resident Representative Adamou Labara said that the electronic single window system will make the country’s economy more efficient. By adjusting the trade system very efficiently, the business community will improve and save huge amount of money, the Representative said.



Association provides modern beehives to organized Sebeta residents


Addis Ababa Police Commission within its membership in Oromia Development Association yesterday provided around 25 beehives to twenty five organized residents of Banti Kebele in Sebeta to assist themselves in a so far fenced plant park.

The association’s modern beehives and wax gift to the organised surrounding residents of the park amounts a total of more than 40 thousand birr.

As of the objective of the association’s establishment the area of the park was so far filled with domestic plants which are now grown well while wild animals have started to live in.

The beekeeping business is launched to the organised residents of Dima area park that is 20 hectares wide.

On the event, Addis Ababa Police Vice Commission Commissioner, Tesfaye Dendena said, beyond conserving the environment by planting trees in the place the association has now provided the residents a modern beehives for them to work and change their life.

According to Tesfaye, members of the police commission are making all the possible efforts in taking part in all parts of development initiatives being made in the country.

“The police commission has contributed around 21 million birr to the construction of Grand Renaissance Dam and now we are providing support to the residents of Dima while it also contributed more than 200 thousand birr to Oromia Development Association ” the Vice commissioner said.

He also said the commission will continue to make an exemplary role participating in various development activities while insuring security of the city. Oromia Development Association, Director, Adanech Abebe, said, the commitment of the police commission in making such a support is the sign of sustainability to the protection of environment along with the support of the poor community.

“When we took the place to make it a park like this, the surrounding residents used to think as though there land is taken away but now they have understood the benefit goes to themselves” said, Head of Addis Ababa Office of Oromia Development Association Dejene Iticha said on his part.

The organised residents are mainly composed of 15 women and 9 men. Farmer Tesfaye Alemu is one of the organized residents. He says the park has totally changed the place into a more attractive one.

Aynalem Abebe on her part said,“I failed in education at grade 10.Most of the women in here have no job. I was also unemployed but I am going to have a job in the beekeeping as of the support by the association”.



Ministry establishes working group to boost water management


Ato Alemayehu Tegenu – Water & Energy Minister

A Water Sector Working Group (WSWG) responsible to ensure integrated development and management of water resources in all sectors was launched yesterday.

Opening a meeting organized to launch the WSWG, Water, Irrigation and Energy Minister Alemenyehu Tegenu said that Ethiopia is a country endowed with ample water resources providing huge opportunities for development for which the government has given due emphasis on how to effectively utilize and mange water resources.

He said the implementation of many hydroelectric projects and large scale irrigation projects clearly show the government’s commitment to effectively utilize water resources for multifaceted development of the nation.

However, he said, a lot works remains to be done in ensuring integrated development and management of water resources as it has significant share to the socio-economic development of the country. Water has to be seen as a cross-cutting resources for it seen impacting the development of other key sectors, he added.

Thus, the country’s water resource has to be developed and managed in integrated manner, as to him.

Accordingly, the government and donors has taken the initiative to establish a joint group called Water Sector working Group lead by the Ministry to mainstream integrated development and management of water in all sectors, he said.

He noted that the establishment of the group would enable all development actors involved in water and sanitation sector to come together and put their due share on the development of water resources.

Mesfin Mulugeta, WSWG Coordinator with the Ministry on his part said that the essence of forming a group is to bring organizations working on water related issues together and create a common platform to help them cooperatively engage in water resource developments.

And this would help to have an opportunity to discuss policies and strategies about water resources development and management, he added.

He said all development partners and concerned government offices are invited to suggest how to further the group work of water management and effective utilization.

According to him, the Ministry leads the group and mobilize fund to effectively manage water resources as it is part of the core country’s development engagements.






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