Items filtered by date: Friday, 11 August 2017
Friday, 11 August 2017 20:29

Ethiopia: The home of natural hot springs


The word spa denotes "fountain". Some experts suggest that the word "spa" originated from the Belgian town of named Spa, where curative natural spring was discovered in the 14th century, documents show. The belief in the curative powers of mineral waters goes back to prehistoric times. Such practices have been popular worldwide, but are especially widespread in Europe and Japan.

Due to the geological condition beneath the Great Rift Valley, Ethiopia contains intense geothermal activity which paved the way for the creation of hot springs. There are many hot spring spots in Ethiopia. Filwoha, Sodere, Wondo Genet, Woliso and Lake Abijatta-Shalla are some of them. Though the nation has immense natural hot spring potentials, it has not been fully utilized using modern technologies and facilities.

Addis Ababa Culture and Tourism Bureau, Communication Affairs Process Leader, Worku Mengesha told The Ethiopian Herald that spa service is flourishing in Addis and other parts of the country though quality remains at stake. He indicated that spa service is allowed only for five and four star hotels.

‘‘Massage and spa is becoming popular in Ethiopia. Currently, there are 35 hotel and spa service provider enterprises in our country. They have created job opportunity for thousands of citizens. The foreign exchange that we have been generating through these enterprises should also be hailed,” he said, adding: “we often undertake supervision and controlling works to enhance quality service.”

Worku stated that his Bureau would intensify efforts to further develop the sector so as to increase the number of tourists. There are plans to make the massage and sap services more competitive in the international market. “If we don’t provide quality service, we couldn’t attract tourists from around the world.”

Filowha, which is the pioneer spa service provider in Ethiopia, has been in remarkable progress over the last two decades. It has proven its importance to the thriving tourism sector of Addis in particular. It is used as means of leisure and medical treatment over its hundred years of existence. Since it has natural hot spring, many people prefer it to the man-made spa destinations.

According to Gebretsadikan Abay, General Director of Filwoha Spa Service Enterprise, Filowha hot springs had first been discovered by Empress Taitu Betul, the wife of Emperor Menelik II. By the time the king chose Addis Ababa as his capital, it was a winter season. The water evaporated from the hot spring catched her attention, and asked herself: "What makes the water to boil? Then, she sent her entourages to explore the matter. Eventually, they discovered that it was hot spring which could cure various health ailments. After that she visited the place and started bathing. During that time, it was giving service for the royal families. However, in 1956, during Emperor Haileslassie’s reign, the service provision was improved to include ordinary people. To meet the demands of customers, expansion works were accomplished at various times. The most notable one in this regard was carried out in 1956 by Israeli contractor. The expansion work had enabled residents of Addis and surrounding suburbs to get massage, sauna bath, and morocco bath and physiotherapy services in an affordable price.

Filwoha provides mainly hotel and spa services for its domestic and foreign customers. Regarding spa service, it has been providing bath service, family and single, massage, sauna and steam bath services. Besides, it has medium clinic which has been offering service by modern equipments and seven qualified professionals. Another service Filwoha provides is the hotel sector. Filwoha Hotel gives bed, food and drink service for local and foreign customers. Filwoha Hotel and Spa Enterprises also manages Langano spa, which is found in the Oromia state, 193 km far away from Addis.

Filwoha offers spa service for 6,000 people from Monday to Friday. The number increases as big as 7,000 people on the weekends and holidays. The writer of this article had approached customers who came from different states of the country as well as Addis. Abraham Nigusse lives in the town of Debrebirhan, 130 km north of the capital. He came from his hometown for the purpose of taking natural hot spring physiotherapy to cure his muscle problems.

“I feel pain on my muscles. The pain aggravates especially during rainy season. People who have been cured here recommended me to take spa physiotherapy. I took the service and I am feeling good now’’ he stated. Abraham added that ‘‘I have never taken such service before. My compacted muscles are becoming relaxed now and I hope I will recover fully to lead my livelihood in a healthy and happy condition.’’

Another customer named Fatuma Ali came from the city of Jimma, 351 km from Addis Ababa. She complained on the long queues and urges something should be done to resolve it, otherwise the services are good.

‘‘I came here for the second time. I am always happy when I take bath here. But the queues should be solved. The enterprise should aware the increasing number of customers and think how to serve it,’’

Having internalizing complaints and comments of its customers as input, Filwoha is striving to offer fast, modern and affordable service. As the demand for sauna bath, massage and physiotherapy is increasing from time to time, the enterprise has planned to undertake further expansion projects.

‘‘Sometimes the demand is beyond the enterprise’s capability to handle it. But we are working day and night to meet the ever-growing interest of the public. Still there are high queues and due to this there are complaints. There are plans from the government to expand Filwoha Hotel and spa service by merging with Ghion hotel. So the high queue problem will be solved when the expansion activity is completed’’ the General Director noted.

Meanwhile, Gebretsadikan has indicated the importance of Filwoha in developing the tourism industry. It is attracting customers from different parts of the world, especially from china, Russia and the Middle East. "The demand is increasing from time to time. To fulfill the interest of our customers, we have been undertaking major expansion projects. We have already built an expansion which could give service for 1500 people a day. Now we have finalized our preparation to open more massage rooms. So we can say that it has been contributing a lot for the tourism industry’’

In the last five years, Filwoha has been registering 10 percent growth consecutively. In the previous fiscal year only, its total sale was 131 million Birr and it is striving to upgrade this year to 141 million Birr. It is also playing massive role in creating job opportunities and keen to hire more skilled human force who transform the enterprise to higher level. In addition to this, it has been undertaking capacity building activities to enhance the professional skills of its employees.

Getahun said medical institutions across the country are prescribing their patients to take massage and physiotherapy in Filwoha. ‘‘We qualified massage professionals. Many people are being cured as soon as they get the natural bath and massage. People who suffered from facial palsy, muscle tension, back, and shoulder and neck pain could be cured in Filwoha spa service’’

Despite lack of human power, lack of massage rooms and lack of equipments and other constraints, Filwoha gives physiotherapy service for more than 400 people within sixteen hours. The enterprise assesses the health conditions of its customers before they use sauna bath. It checks whether they have diabetes, hypertension, and blood pressure so as to recommend them how to adjust the water.

Getahun Bitew, Physiotherapy and Sauna Bath Service Director claimed that Filwowha is curing many paralyzed people.

‘‘People come here for medical treatment and leisure. We came across Arab couple who were paralyzed for sixteen years walking healthy and happily after they took massage and sauna bath here for only sixteen days. This was an amazing scenario at that time. Since it is natural hot spring, medical institutions are prescribing Filwhoha physiotherapy treatment for their patients,’’ he said. People who suffered from facial palsy, muscle tension, back, shoulder and neck pain could be cured in Filwoha through physiotherapy, Getahun reassured.

Ethiopia’s tourism sector has shown tremendous development over the last two decades. The country has been endeavoring to develop tourist destinations. Though there are many improvements, still there are lots of limitation which should be solved by the government and non-governmental organizations. Especially, the natural hot spring spa service should be enhanced. It could one way of luring tourists from different parts of the world. Making Ethiopia as one of the top spa physiotherapy destination should be prime target for every pertinent body.


Published in Society


Access to safe water and sanitation for all has been one of humanity’s most intractable challenges, particularly in most developing countries. Government and non-government organizations have generated innovative mechanisms to enhance the quality of health of millions of people in these parts of the world.

UNICEF and World Health Organization’s 2017 report shows that 2.1 billion people, (3 in 10) lack access to safe water, 4.5 billion people, (6 in 10) lack access to a restroom. Several studies show that there are more people with a mobile phone than a restroom.

Due to that nearly one million people die from diseases related to lack of sanitation each year. Globally, one child dies from a water-related disease every 90 seconds. Diarrhea is the 3rd leading cause of child death worldwide, and a majority of those cases are communicated by contaminated water.

Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. Although Ethiopia has a low level of urbanization, with only 17 percent of the population living in urban areas, the annual rate of migration to urban areas is growing at 3.57 percent and straining both the government’s and ecosystem’s capacity to provide people with basic services in its cities.

Sources indicated that while Ethiopia has made important strides toward improving access to safe water despite millions are still facing challenges in this regard. Government and donors alone cannot provide water and sanitation for the population. The sector needs fresh thinking and bold approaches to accelerate progress.

When we see the figures globally, annual aid for water and sanitation amounts to only eight billion USD, far short of the one trillion USD needed to solve this crisis and maintain the access on long term basis. The challenge is further compounded by the high cost of infrastructure, poor management of the existing structures, lack of proper operations & maintenance, poor water utility management, poorly targeted subsidies and misguided development assistance.

These realities and other insights should inspire us to think of other alternatives rather than delivering heavily subsidized water and sanitation solutions. There would never be enough charity and government subsidy to deliver WSS to everyone in need, we need to set out to find approaches that connect with the private sector to work towards self-supply options as highlighted by the Government of Ethiopia in the One WASH National Plan. The One WASH National Program (OWNP) is the Government of Ethiopia’s (GoE) main instrument for achieving the goals set out in the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP).

Water supply and sanitation is the top priority of Ethiopian water management policy and strategy. The_second growth and transformation plan (GTP-II) clearly articulates to reach 85% from current 59% in rural areas and 75% from current 58% in urban areas.

The GTP II is also an important vehicle to achieve the universal access to water supply and sanitation in line with the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Charity alone is not a long-term solution. We seek sustainable financial solutions that will last and grow. The government cannot discharge its responsibility alone. Several stakeholders are part of these activities., an American none for profit organization, founded by the famous film actor Matt Damon and Gary White, a water engineer is one of these organizations.’s model of WaterCredit, working with MFI’s to bring about sustainable solutions to the global water crisis could easily be replicated in Ethiopia. As to Salfiso Kitabo, Country Director for, “The cost of bringing safe water and sanitation to the needy in Ethiopia is staggering. Government has many competing priorities to address and there will never be enough charity to solve the water crisis. Involving microfinance institutions can help the Government achieve its self-supply target”

Microfinance loans can be offered by many actors. This could include banks’ supports. The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia as well as private banks could do that. These banks collectively cover a large geographic portion of the country, allowing for many of interested people to take action on their own behalf without waiting for the arrival of government programs. Therefore, multitude of actors offering water and sanitation microloans create the potential for the Government to achieve its targets for water and sanitation access at a faster rate.

Those living in absolute poverty will continue to require assistance from the government and the philanthropic community. However, for poor families with some financial means, microfinance institutions enable them to step up and accelerate change in their communities. With more of the poor being empowered to finance their water and sanitation solutions, governments and charities can target their scarce resources more effectively at the absolute poorest of the poor, stretching limited budgets further.

What is more, the role of microfinance to create job opportunity is vital. Under a microfinance model, families take loans and then are responsible for hiring local labor and purchasing water and sanitary materials. These activities stimulate the local economy and can create substantial markets for water connections, toilet construction and the vending of the necessary materials on levels that were not previously needed.

Water-fetching can occupy hours of a day, usually for women and/or female children. With household access to water and sanitation, hours that previously were occupied by water fetching and attending to sanitation needs can be redirected towards other productive works and schooling. These pure economic impacts can be combined with the gains in time achieved by higher levels of health from access to safe drinking water and sanitation, which also provide people with more energy to dedicate to work and school in addition to savings incurred from medical expenses that are no longer needed.

Household access to water and sanitation contributes to women’s empowerment, additional important aspect. Globally, women and girls bear the majority of water fetching responsibility and suffer more from lack of proper sanitation facilities.

Microfinance for water and sanitation contributes to financial inclusion. Microloans for water and sanitation are generally smaller than those disbursed for income-generation loans. Because these loans are smaller, people at lower income levels who might have been intimidated by larger loans are more likely to see these loans as within their means of repayment. In this way, microloans for water and sanitation can be seen as gateway loans that attract people who were previously excluded from formal financial systems. In addition, from repaying these water and sanitation loans, the poor establish creditworthiness that enables them to take out additional loans from commercial lenders.

Microfinance contribution to sustainability is the other significant role for the economy.

In many situations, resources provided by the government or via charity are not maintained properly and abandoned the moment they need repair (if they were used at all). Under a microfinance model, however, borrowers have a financial stake in their water supply and sanitation solutions, which creates a greater incentive to ensure proper operation, maintenance and usage.


Published in Development
Friday, 11 August 2017 19:46

River Nile to all riparian!

Most Nile River Basin states have materialized their commitments of developing the Nile watercourse by signing the Cooperative Framework of Agreement (CFA) on Nile. The parliaments of three countries; Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda have made` a final headway ratifying the document which ensures the equitable use of and benefit from the waters of the Nile to all the riparian countries.

Of course, the CFA is a guarantee to sustain the flow and volume of the river which is home to over 400 million people whose life primarily depended on rain-fed agriculture. The signatory and ratifying countries’ decision is, therefore, believed to lead the poor people of the basin into the limelight of prosperity.

Coupled with rapid population projection in the Basin states –one billion by 2050, Nature Climate Change (2017) – climatic variability makes the development of the river system a matter of survival than a mere option. For this to happen, the rest signatories have historic responsibility of green lighting the CFA to ensure the development of the river system.

Available resources of the riparian should wisely be used to boost agricultural production and productivity, and to advance the clean energy mix of countries, among others. In this regard, the Basin States are endowed with various comparative advantages. For instance, the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) would avail the opportunity to reserve large amount of water with less evaporation, besides producing 6,450 MW of energy. Sudan can get regulated flow of water all the year round, as a result of GERD, to develop its vast fertile lands. This also holds true for Egypt.

But, to harness more benefits from the river system, the States should (bring in to play) the basin-wide institution promised in the CFA—Nile River Basin Commission (NRBC). And all what it takes to establish the NRBC is pursuing the agreed political commitment.

Individual countries like Ethiopia may exercise the right to develop themselves within the principles of equitable and reasonable use of waters in their boundaries. The GERD, for instance, takes the principles of ‘equitable and reasonable use’ as well as ‘non-significant harm’ into account. The people of the country living in the basin system as well are building conservational structures and transplanting tree seedlings to sustain the flow and volume of the waters—activity estimated to worth hundreds of thousands of USD.

However, the unilateral move could be a means to harness the river but not an end in itself. Thus, all the eleven countries of the Basin should come at confluence to develop the entire region. As the countries are in one river system, not in a separate river systems, any shock upstream, would be felt at the remote end of the delta. And the CFA is the only legal rallying factor for the countries to realize concerted development.

Of course, four more countries, Uganda, Kenya and Burundi and South Sudan have already started the ratification procedure.

But, the remaining downstream countries have to include themselves in the entire process of cooperation. In fact, signatory and ratifying countries have made repeated call, and also created several platforms to the downstream countries to enable them join the cooperative table without any precondition. Sudan has understood the benefits of cooperation, and it has come on board in 2013. Yet, it has not signed the CFA. Egypt, which could benefit more from cooperation, needs to do a sober analysis on the cost of non-cooperation. Though, Egypt shuns from the cooperative table, the “Nile Council of Ministers Extraordinary meeting held In Kinshasa, DRC on 22 May 2009” [as indicated in the CFA] decided to annex article 14b of the CFA to be resolved within six months of NRBC establishment—a good gesture to bring Egypt to the cooperation though it has not yet embraced it.

Upper riparian countries and downstream South Sudan have shown their commitments to the entire development of the Basin countries. And three countries have a historic opportunity to consummate the ratification and bringing a new legal legacy into reality. By doing so, the countries would assure their places in the history of the Basin for bringing a new basin-wide legal reign.

Published in Editorial-View-Point


The hard negotiated River Nile Cooperative Framework of Agreement has thus far seen three ratifying countries out of the seven signatories. In the eyes of experts which The Ethiopian Herald approached for comments, the rest signatories ought to reiterate their commitment by expediting the ratification procedure.

The parliaments of three of the signatories –Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania—have already passed the document. But, unless three more countries follow suit and deposit the ratifying instrument with the African Union, the Framework cannot come to effect. Put it another way, the basin-wide institution Nile River Basin Commission (NRBC) would not come to reality. The question is, therefore: How could ratifying countries encourage the remaining signatories to expedite the process?

It goes without saying that establishing a legal framework and common institution is useful to all riparian countries, argues Dr. Yakob Arsano who closely watches developments on the Basin.

For him, all the signatory countries are responsible in having the CFA ratified as per their national (constitutional) procedures. “As friends and co-riparian countries, and having negotiated for over ten years, the signatory countries can encourage one another to move forward on the ratification of CFA instrument. Indeed they can update one another on the progress of ratification in their respective countries.”

Most riparian countries have committed themselves in signing the CFA to benefit the 400 million people living in the basin system through nullifying the old-fashioned water allocation system which based on principle of absolute territorial integrity, where downstream countries discouraged any upstream developmental feats which uses the waters of the Nile.

This commitment materializes when Burundi, Kenya and Uganda complete the ratification procedure by effecting the agreed political commitment, Dr. Yakob indicates, adding that more basin countries should also accede the document.

The document was negotiated and agreed upon to establish trust, promote greater cooperation and enhance sustainable use of the Nile waters within each country as well as among the countries in such a way that the utilization of the water resources is in keeping with the principles and procedures provided in the agreement. Thus, its coming to force is useful to all riparian countries, more so to downstream countries, he adds.

In using the waters, basin states are required: to consider the social and economic needs of parties (CFA, Art.4 (2)b), and the population dependent on the water resources in each basin state— as well as effects of uses or use of the water resources in one Basin State on other Basin state (CFA, Art.4 (2)d).

Besides, Article 4(4) has it that the determination of reasonable and equitable use would be considered together (by signatory parties), while parties would observe the rules and regulations the Commission sets.

This and other provisions which confer the rights to development using the water and ensure the water security of the Basin States have to see six ratifying countries to deposit the ratifying instrument at the African Union. And it seems as time goes by, it puts its daunting impact on the development of the basin system and its millions of people.

Fekeahmed Negash is Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO) Executive Director. For him, the time is not yet over. “The agreement is linked with sovereignty of the states, and needs care.”

“The process is under different level of ratification in the remaining countries.”

It took nearly two decades to conclude the 1997 United Nations’ Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses. The long process had been to get 18 countries, out of 102 signatories, pass the document. “In our case, only six countries are needed to bring the CFA into effect. Now we need only three ratifications,” he points out.

Kenya will, most hopefully, pass the CFA. Its cabinet has already green lighted the document, and referred it to parliament. Likewise, South Sudan and Burundi put the CFA on the right track of ratification despite their domestic problems. Uganda is also expected to follow suit. But, downstream countries are not still part of the CFA. Sudan and Egypt walked out of the negotiation in 2010. The former came back to the cooperation table in 2013. But, the latter demanded to rephrase of Art. 14 (b) which is annexed with the CFA, to be resolved within six months of the Commission’s establishment.

The annexed article reads: “not to significantly affect the water security of any other Nile Basin State.” And Egypt demanded this to be rephrased with deadlock terms like “not adversely harming water security,” and “current uses” and “rights of any other Nile Basin State.”

In this case, Egypt seems to resuscitate the1929 colonial and 1959 bilateral agreements agreement, in one hand. Fekeahmed strongly argues that Egypt should support the document and sign it. “As cooperation has benefits, non-cooperation has also costs particularly to downstream countries.”

Non-cooperation harms downstream countries more than it does to upper. “Countries want Egypt to come to cooperation, Egypt’s absence has impacts on the cooperation, we want to include the interests of Egypt in our works, and we need them not to impede the process and should come back without prerequisite,” Fekeahmed urges.

Dr. Yakob on the other hand pointed out as Egypt or no other country can possibly have the said article or any provision in the signed and ratified agreement changed. It is provided in the CFA that Article 14b can only be considered by the NRBC upon its establishment. “First of all Egypt will have to accede the CFA, and join the NRBC to enjoy the privilege of requesting any revision or amendment to the provisions of CFA.

Asked whether Egypt’s ‘development cooperation’ with countries like Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and South Sudan may slow down the ratification process, Dr. Yakob responded this way: “The countries mentioned will not go against their own hard negotiated and already attained national interests. The governments cannot contradict themselves. The publics of the countries would also not accept compromises against their national interests.”

The experts assert that the CFA ratification procedure is on the right track and it is possible to see the long-sought basin-wide institution, NRBC, to come to view.


Published in National-News
Friday, 11 August 2017 19:36

Street carnivals in about 10 days


Tigray and Amhara States have finalized preparations to celebrate street carnivals, commonly known as Ashenda and Shadey by the people of the respective States.

The celebration falls in August 22 and lasts for five days, giving girls and young women the opportunity to chant and dance in their neighborhoods and public areas.

Tigray Culture and Tourism Bureau, Public Relations Head Abadi Desta told The Ethiopian Herald that his Bureau has been striving to celebrate Ashenda colorfully in collaboration with stakeholders like Regional Communication Affairs Bureau, Tigray Women’s Affairs Bureau and Tigray Women’s Association.

“Ashenda is celebrated every year in a very magnificent manner. It has become the first flamboyantly celebrated street carnival in the world which is performed by girls and young women. We started our preparation as of June 8 through workshops and panel discussions,” he said, adding: “the celebration committee has been promoting th festivity by assigning prominent ladies as Ambassadors of Ashenda.”

Abadi stated that reporters of national media as well as correspondents of major international outlets are expected to cover the event. “Over 80 local and foreign journalists will arrive at the State’s capital, Mekelle.

‘‘We have agreed a deal with state’s television, Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporate (EBC), to a two-hour live broadcast of Ashenda. As far as foreign media are concerned, we have contacted world mainstream media like CNN, BBC, Reuters, CCTV and Anadolu Agency. “CNN and Anadoulu have already confirmed their attendance.”

The holiday will be opened officially on 21 August 2017 through panel discussion on the preservation of Ashenda festivity, dressing code and hairdo.

Starting from August 22, girls and young women would perform the street carnival accompanied by tens of thousands of local people, members of the Diaspora community, senior governmental officials and tourists, Abadi noted.

On the other hand, he underlined that Tigray Culture and Tourism Bureau in collaboration with the Authority for Conservation of Cultural Heritage has been endeavoring to register Ashenda, St. Yared and his works, Gerealta Mountains, Al-nejashi Mosque and Adwa and its battle in UNESCO world heritage list.

Regarding accommodation, Abadi confirmed that hotels, transportation facilities and other logistics are at the ready.

Similarly, Haileyesus Filate, Amhara State Public Relations Director, told this reporter that preparations have been finalized to celebrate the holiday starting from August 22, 2017 for five consecutive days.

The carnival would mainly be celebrated in Lasta Lalibela, Rayakobo and Sokota localities.

The festivity has variants in the areas; Shadey at Waghimra, Ashendye at Lasta-Lalibela and Solel Rayakobo zones, he said, adding that it is very lively holiday celebrated by girls and young women adorned with traditional clothing and hairdo and accompanied by men.

Since the new Ethiopian Millennium, the regional government has been celebrating the holiday in an eye-catching way, Hileyesus added. “We have planned to make the celebration one of the major tourism heritages which could generate foreign currency earnings,” Haileyesus reasserted.

‘‘The Culture and Tourism Bureau is working earnestly in collaboration with the concerned bodies to further promote the festivity.’’

He added that Amhara Mass media Agency will broadcast the celebration live so as to be viewed in different parts of the world.

Haileyesus said that besides celebrating the folk festival, the State government has aimed to mark the days with panel discussions, exhibitions.


Published in National-News

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