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Etenesh Abera

Addis Abeba, March 19/2018 –  The Global Coalition for Lake Tana Restoration, a nonprofit organization established by Ethiopian water professionals in the US, raised a total of over 140,000 USD (equivalent to 3.8 Million birr), at a fundraising event organized on March 17 in Washington DC. 

Dubbed as “Tena le Tana 2018” (Health for Tana 2018), the event brought together a number of artists including Ethiopia’s legendary singer Muhammud Ahmed as well as over 1500 people.  In addition to the money pledged during the event, Medhanialem Church of DC has pledged to cover the cost of one weed harvesting machine at approximately $70,000.

“When Ethiopians come together, they are known to do great things,” said Dr Solomon Kibret, Chair of the Coalition, in an emailed message to Addis Standard. “Lake Tana is at a critical risk where two to three million people living around the lake are hugely affected by the expanding weed.”

The Global Coalition for Lake Tana Restoration was formed by Ethiopians and friends living abroad “to support environmental and water management activities around Lake Tana. This association aims to restore a healthy biodiversity and a well-managed aquatic environment by addressing current challenges such as the spread of water hyacinth and water pollution,” the collation said.

“Ethiopians in the diaspora are holding hands to help eradicate the weed from Ethiopia’s largest lake” Dr. Solomon added.

Ethiopia’s largest lake threatened

An article published on Addis Standard in Oct. 2017 detailed how the invasive water hyacinth was threatening Ethiopia’s largest lake and the source of the Nile. “Water hyacinth was first observed on Lake Tana at Chera kebele of Dembya woreda around 2011/2012 (2004 E.C.). By 2015, a significant swath of the lake’s northern and northeastern shores could be seen covered by water hyacinth. Estimates suggest that the weed currently covers 25,000 hectares of the lake. Recent media reports suggest that the weed is spotted on the Abbay River as far as the edges of the Tis Issat Falls, demonstrating the weed’s capacity to expand itself to new areas,” wrote the authors.

Since then, several initiatives have been taking place by Ethiopians both in and outside of the country. The Global Coalition has already bought a modern weed harvesting machine and has shipped it to Ethiopia last week, according to Dr. Solomon, who added: “the machine is expected to arrive in Ethiopia around mid April.”

And on March 13, legendary athlete Derartu Tulu and businessman/philanthropist Belayneh kinde have joined hands in donating 200,000 & 1.3 m birr respectively toward efforts to save Lake Tana.

Likewise, several other organizations are contributing in various ways. The event in Washington DC., for example, was co-hosted by Taitu Cultural Center and Eshara Multimedia. AS

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