Xinyu LinFollow

Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2020

Thesis Advisor(s)

Emmanouil Anagnostou, Shinae Jang

Honors Major

Civil Engineering


Civil Engineering | Environmental Engineering | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Other Civil and Environmental Engineering | Water Resource Management


The country of Ethiopia is highly vulnerable to human-caused climate change and is already suffering from the effects. The predominately rural population relies heavily on small-scale agriculture, with 78% of households having at least one member engaged in the field, yet staple crops are highly susceptible to droughts and other weather shocks. Total and agricultural GDP growth in the country have been strongly linked to inter-annual rainfall variability, of which Ethiopia has among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. A decrease in rainfall since the 1970s has been one of the primary causes of low crop yields, and stresses the immediate need for accessible water in the country. Groundwater is a resource that is primarily used for drinking water, but has high potential for larger-scale uses such as irrigation. This work presents the integrated groundwater footprint (iGF) index as a tool for sustainable use of aquifers to meet the demands of Ethiopia’s human and agricultural freshwater needs. The iGF is a visual map, based on hydrological data of the country, that assesses both the quantity and quality of groundwater available for utilization across the entirety of Ethiopia. The iGF accounts for the annual abstraction rate, recharge rate, the groundwater contribution to environmental stream flow, and potential contaminants. Most aquifers in Ethiopia were found to have a iGF/A less than or close to 1, indicating unstressed use. Notable exceptions are a very deep Mesozoic sediment aquifer (aquifer system 2) in the Somali and Oromia region and a deep volcanic aquifer (aquifer system 9) in the Oromia, SNNPR, and Amhara regions. This work will contribute to the currently limited knowledge on groundwater resources in Ethiopia and will further the productive and sustainable use of aquifers in irrigation and policy practices.