Considering its necessity in life, water should be accessible to all living things through effective management. For this reason, the Government is striving to provide potable water supply to all corners of the country, as well as raising public awareness for proper utilization of every drop of water. Very recently, “Eritrean Water Proclamation” No. 162/2010 was issued as regards the efficient use of water and enhancing its socio-economic advantage. With the increasing demand of water in the country, it is of vital necessity to outline proclamation to manage the inadequate amount of water the country possess. The proclamation published in Tigrinya, English and Arabic languages, also includes the Legal Notice No. 117/2010 on regulations of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS). Shabait conducted an interview with the Minister of Land, Water and Environment, Mr. Tesfai Gebreselasie, regarding the recent proclamation and on ways of implementing it.
What is the aim of the new proclamation?
All water resources in the country are the common property of the people of Eritrea and the State regulates them to ensure their management in a balanced and sustainable manner. This is aimed at managing water resources in the country wisely, and thereby ensuring regular availability. It also imposes rules and regulations on conservation and protection of water resources both on the surface and underground from pollution. It would further guarantee availability of water and development of resources as well as judicious prioritization of allocation.
In the proclamation it is disclosed that there exist shortage of water resources both in terms of quality and quantity in the country. Can you elaborate?
Unlike other countries of the world, Eritrea doesn’t have big water rivers and lakes flowing the whole year. The main source of water is from rainfall and underground water. The other salty water available in the sea would demand high technological facilities to be extracted. Besides, this region is susceptible to global warming scenario as scientific facts have proven, in addition to the unpredictable rainfall. Thus, we should harness the available water resources at our disposal cautiously, in addition to developing methods of conserving it. We would need also to exert utmost efforts to create ways of further promoting the capacity of water resources in the country.
Explain to us some of the regulations outlined there?
The proclamation encompasses 7 Chapters and 35 Articles on various topics. It includes ownership and management, water resource planning, pollution prevention and abatement and water quality control, charges and fees, registration of permits as well as right of appeal and offences. The proclamation also comprises the legal notice on importing and exporting ODS and ODS based equipment or products so as to control and limit ozone depleting substances imported to or exported from Eritrea.
What changes are we going to expect when the proclamation takes effect?
We can not say that our management of water has been commendable; nevertheless, with the adoption of the new proclamation, we would endeavor to promote access of water and develop means of conserving it. Any individual or institution that carries out activities in connection with water would need permission. The proclamation would create viable atmosphere to investors, though priorities would be given in accordance to vitality. There is a plan to strengthen water administrators of rural areas.
What should be done to effectively translate the proclamation on the ground?
Creating comprehensive awareness among the society is initial step as they are the primary beneficiaries. They should take the responsibility in conserving and protecting it from pollution.
Is there any message you would like to convey?
People’s active participation in conservation and management of water resource should be reinforced for all-round development especially for achieving food security.