Assessing the impact of war on the water supply infrastructure in Tigray, Ethiopia

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Haile Arefayne Shishaye , Tesfay G. Gebremicael , Hadush Meresa, Fasil A. Gebre , Shishay Kidanu


Armed conflicts throughout the world can have substantial impacts on private and public infrastructure and its people. Over the last two decades, the regional government of Tigray in Ethiopia has invested extensively in developing surface and groundwater resources for water supply leading to 61% of rural and 57% of urban populations having access to safe drinking water by 2020. However, the Ethiopian Government and its allies’ invasion of Tigray in the early November 2020 led to considerable damage and devastation of Tigray's water infrastructure. This study assessed the damage to Tigray's water supply systems and determined the impact on its people. The study, conducted between late 2021 and early 2022, found that the destruction reduced the rural and urban water supply coverage of the region by over 50% (i.e., reduced to 28% and 25%, respectively). The war exposed more than 3.7 million people in Tigray to a shortage of drinking water supply and water-related risks, such as disease and food insecurity. Over the past 15 months of the war, the damage to the water supply infrastructures in Tigray was considerably higher than in other regional conflicts, with the damage in Tigray being 15% higher than the damage to Syria's drinking water supply infrastructures over 10 years of conflict and 6% higher than the damage to Yemen's water supply infrastructures over seven years of conflict. This study shows the significant and long-term impacts armed conflict can have on a developing country's water infrastructure and people. In future conflicts, monitors and aid agencies must assess this more adequately to limit the impact on civilian populations.



Educational Methods


Damage assessment, Ethiopian and Eritrean invasion, Tigray war, urban and rural impacts of war, Water Infrastructure


Published: 2023-02-10 10:12


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:
No competing interested.