Bahir Dar The First Water-Wise Resilient Forest City of Ethiopia and Africa: The Urban Gardens, Urban Forest and Urban Infrastructure of Bahir Dar Water Wise City


Amount Raised


Total Investors

Project Overview

The plan and the project proposal aim at harnessing the power of the city’s inherited natural & cultural landscapes to provide core resilient infrastructure services, and meet the climate change mitigation-adaptation challenges at a lower costs and greater impact. The proposal also aims at creating the INCLUSIVE city for inclusive economic growth as the city’s blue and green infrastructures are capable to deliver core infrastructure services to the city’s rural-peri urban-urban territories.


  • Affordable Housing
  • Energy
  • Roads & Bridges
  • Informal Settlements Upgrading
  • Transport & Mobility
  • Urban Infill & Public Space
  • Waste Management
  • Water & Sanitation
Funding Goal


All the project components listed above are a means that will translate the vision of the new Structure Plan of Bahir Dar Regio-Politan city. The geographical scope is the Regio-Politan area of Bahir Dar City. Bahir Dar has decided for the densification of its city center (Goal 1: Compact eco-city). The historical city center milieu and habitat that makes the city so beautiful and attractive can be expanded to these new areas. That is only possible if you simultaneously invest in clean air and in large expanses of blue and green multifunctional infrastructures well connected (Goal 2: Lake Tana conservation & resilience to climate change) and creating responsible society (Goal 3: Responsible tourism). The city has preferred a style of urban growth that does not increases and expands its surface area but that intensifies the existing urban territory and transforms its industrial and business zones (Goal 4: Higher education, industry & innovation; Goal 5: SMEs & local economic development). The city will be built new dwellings with accompanying amenities( the public space) within the city’s existing boundaries (Goal 6: Social inclusion & urban safety; Goal 7: Affordable Housing), basic and reliable services (Goal 8: Integrated infrastructure & enhanced service provision ), Public transport (Goal 9: Sustainable Mobility) by creating good governance and strengthening the financial systems (Goal 10: Accountable Governance & Goal 11: Financing for local development).

Progress Tracker


  • Phase 1 (Completed)

    Re-define The Challenges: Reconnaissance of the territory and its landscapes We begin with a site visit, and, by identifying in a map, the diverse collection and main elements that compose the strategic area under consideration. From a preliminary inventory, it can be seen that most of them are fragmented landscapes such as: •deforested hills •churches that might function as a reservoir of forests and biodiversity; other deforested hills and the church as the reservoir of forests are almost in front each other, as if suggesting the viewer, a choice •fragmented landscape of wetlands and natural drainage channels (the wetlands as wastelands) •regional urban functions (hospitals, regional government offices) •dairy production farms •fish markets •the biosphere reserve •the airport and the airport road currently under expansion, etc. •urban heat island effect

  • Phase 2 (Completed)

    Redefine the opportunities Synergies. We Begin to establish in a map, some synergies between these fragmented landscapes, that will facilitate a transformation of the area into successful multifunctional ecological corridors. Projects. A series of projects are then defined in a map, to take advantage of the above synergies and facilitate the transformation of the key strategic area into a successful peri-urban multifunctional ecological corridor. These projects include: •circular dairy farms •productive green belts •the ecological green corridor •natural reserves and wildlife habitats •the biosphere reserve and its core buffer and transition zones; the ecological corridor will act as a repository of local knowledge •buffer zone to the airport noise-pollution •a system of wetlands and natural drainage channels for the provision of ecosystems and infrastructure services •water mobility •areas for recreation This will be a (peri)- Urban Biodiversity Corridor that in addition to conservation of natural reserves and ecosystems (wetland, hills, etc) allows for the development of sustainable urban agri-culture in its transition zones in the form of productive belts. This corridor intersects and adds value to the airport and to the future airport iconic boulevard corridor.

  • Phase 3 (Completed)

    Gudo Bahir wetland Of particular interest here is the large wetland known as “Gudo Bahir”. The increasing development of urban (transport) infrastructure and the lack of it (as when wet-lands are treated as wastelands) is leading to the significant loss of these natural wetlands and their ecosystem services. Urban development is leading to the loss of natural wetlands and continue to do so. When wetlands are impacted by urban development, the ecosystem services of these wetlands are lost. Lost services that the city currently needs include flood mitigation, water quality improvement, habitat quality for biodiversity, and public amenities such as nature education and aesthetics. These services are part of important considerations in contemporary urban design and development. From very early on in the planning process, we consider the “Gudo Bahir” wetland as being of key strategic relevance for the city, as it belongs and gives shape to a microclimate together with hills and forests (currently at the risk of being de-forested), in very closed proximity to each other. The wetland also seems to connect the river and the lake through some sort of natural drainage channel. In addition to the Bahir Dar City administration, this wetland is also of interest to the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy. This means there is a great opportunity to align local, national and global agendas around the issue of urban ecosystem and their services, particularly as they relate to the quantity, quality and risks of water (in its nexus with energy and food as well as mobility. The city council as well as the community representatives at the kebele and katana level have all expressed interest in the future of this wetland. In this phase we will define together with the above stakeholders the main challenges and opportunities for the specific case of this particular wetland.

  • Phase 4 (Completed)

    The Interventions Multi-functional eco-corridors connecting existing wetlands, as the city’s natural assets capable to deliver core urban infrastructure services (water purification and storage, flood management, irrigation, energy and food production). The project-proposal will re-create existing living wetlands and streams, and re-forest the nearby hills, along the urban ecological corridors running through the city so as to weave a tapestry of Sustainable infrastructures. We propose to redesign Gudo Bahir wetland (as well as the entire system of the cities' wetlands that together compose a lake within the core city) as an essential Infrastructural Element/service for Urban Development in Bahir Dar in the era of Climate Change. This infrastructure system will guarantee water security for the city through dealing with the water cycle (quantity-quality-risks), as follows: The city’s Eco-hydrology for Urban storm, wastewater and floods management: The city is well placed to leapfrog directly to a water-wise resilient forest city, rather than follow the organic evolution of urban water infrastructure and institutions in developed cities and countries. Leapfrogging is simply about avoiding the traditional evolutionary approach to infrastructure development and management. Promoting a leapfrogging pathway requires a shift in urban water infrastructure development strategies to embrace the notion that the management of sewage and stormwater as a resource can concurrently address sanitation and flood mitigation, while significantly enhancing the reliability of water supply services. Promoting a whole-of-government approach to infrastructure investment and management, and integrating urban water services with spatial planning, are key catalysts for leapfrogging. Let us illustrate this as follows The quantity of water: The wetlands, streams, and natural drainage landscapes of Bahir Dar can help to absorb peaks in water supply. Bahir Dar little natural wetlands and natural stream valleys act like sponges. During times of heavy rainfall, they would absorb lots of water, and in times of drought they would ensure that the water gradually becomes available again. Thus, it is important to preserve the gentle slopes of the natural wetlands and stream banks. Wetlands as natural infrastructures for stormwater retention areas lower costs for stormwater drains, pump stations, and treatment of combined storm and wastewater discharges. They filter pollutants and can remove heavy metals from stormwater. The risk of water: These living wetlands and streams of Bahir Dar could be used to address other water challenges such as flood safety. To protect itself from flooding, the city could re-build these wetlands as parks designed to store and recycle rainwater. A holistic approach to flood risk can also provide greater water supply security to the city. Early planning and delineation of open spaces and blue/green corridors for safe passage of floodwater can avoid encroachment of urban development (the perception of wetlands as wastelands), into these natural wetlands and flood paths. Historically, encroachment into these pathways and wetlands, have increased the flood risk to inhabitants, and over time, it might lead to expensive flood mitigation retrofit works in built-up areas like straightening and concrete lining of urban drains and waterways. Ironically, some cities all around the world, are now embarking on expensive retrofits to undo earlier flood mitigation works; converting concrete drains back to more naturalized waterways – another avoidable expense in a leapfrogging scenario. In this leapfrogging scenario, the green/blue infrastructure of the city (its wetlands), will be used to support decentralized water services. The delineated blue/green corridors will become the focal points for local drainage and can be designed as infrastructure for: •Treatment and storage of stormwater as a resource during smaller, lower intensity and frequent storm events. •Community recreational purposes as parks and gardens. •Enhanced amenity and ecological biodiversity. •The corridors and the wetlands as productive landscapes for Food production. They could also have a significant influence on local microclimate (see below, the urban heat island effect). The construction and establishment of these blue-green corridors connecting the wetlands, would provide multiple benefits including flood control, environmental protection in the form of storm water quality treatment and landscape aesthetic. Gudo Bahir would be designed to store storm water during times of flood threat. The new park will serve as a typical recreation area and a nature reserve – but its primary purpose is to store, and then recycle, rainwater, that is, it will perform as an eco-infrastructure for water services. When the rainfall is too heavy (it rains every day in Bahir Dar during the summer-time (June-July-August 2019) for the city’s storm drains to cope the overflow will be diverted to these systems of wetlands functioning also as parks. These parks would be landscaped with native Bahir Dar’s trees and plants and rapidly populated by resident and migratory birds and small creatures. We will introduce larvae-eating fish so that we don’t get mosquitoes. Such Flood retention zones could be combined with rainwater infiltration through permeable pavements and green roofs. The enhancement and protection of the quality of water: Among the threats to water quality, untreated or poorly treated wastewater are here identified as a key problem. There are people in the regio-politan city and in the core-city living without sanitation properly separating them from their biological waste. Wastewater drains directly into surface waters (streams, river, lake wetlands, etc). Despite improvements over past decades, unsafe management of faecal waste and wastewater still presents a major risk to public health and the environment. The sustainable development goal on water (SDG6) lists halving the amount of untreated wastewater and significantly increasing recycling and safe reuse globally as one objective. However, Bahir Dar’s core city and the subsatellite and sub-cities of the regio-politan city might not have the necessary infrastructure and funds to manage wastewater in an efficient and sustainable way. As result, the city’s generated wastewater flows back into the city’s ecosystems untreated. Wastewater generated by households, hotels, the industrial parks, and agriculture flow back into nature without being treated or reused. People in Bahir Dar city might use these contaminated water sources, which contributes to disease and deaths annually. An important goal is therefore to turn wastewater into a valuable resource through treatment processes that the city can use as an energy source or water for irrigation of the metropolitan food clusters and gardens. But there is also a need to reduce wastewater, and on that front, a powerful tool already exists in the form of wetlands, trees and forestlands all belonging into the new eco-corridors of the city we have been referring to as the natural capital of Bahir Dar city. Finding affordable and sustainable wastewater treatment solutions: Seek affordable and sustainable wastewater management solutions to prevent death and illness, and in so doing improve overall human wellbeing in Bahir’s Dar regio-politan city. Natural and constructed wetlands, in combination with wastewater treatment ponds and soil infiltration systems, and green roofs and vertical gardens, could be used as de-centralized wastewater treatment systems, filtering out water pollution, supporting the removal of wastewater contaminants such as bacteria, heavy metals and high levels of nutrients. Such wetlands will filter wastewater effluent and thereby reduce wastewater treatment requirements. Explore Algae based wastewater treatment solutions. In six sequential treatment ponds, cultured algae species could be used to create unfavourable conditions for pathogens such as Escherichia coli by increasing the pH level of water. The algae in ponds one to five will be consuming the nutrients coming into the ponds with the effluent. In the sixth pond the water will be polished and prepared for final release into the water bodies (river and/ or the lake). The above leapfrogging pathway will enable the city to skip over inferior, less efficient, more expensive or more polluting technologies, and proceed directly to the implementation of more integrated and sustainable approaches. This will enable the city to avoid the environmental, social and economic vulnerabilities that come from managing the water cycle in a fragmented way. Second, the beauty of the city does not just occur naturally: it is the product of public policy and investment. Of course, some places such as Bahir Dar are endowed with more natural beauty, in the form of stunning lake and river fronts, systems of wetlands and natural drainage and eco-corridors, or scenic mountain ranges. But the city can and do make herself more beautiful by investing in wetlands their natural drainage and forests, lake and river waterfronts, parks (such as Selam park) and protecting landmarks and historic spaces.

  • Phase 5 (Completed)

    The Urban gardens and urban forests of Bahir Dar’s water-wise city In addition to extreme precipitation, the eco-corridors (as natural infrastructures) can also help the city to address local impacts of climate change such as the urban heat island effect (increasing heat due to increasing carbon emissions).The concept plan accounts for the impact of climate change on the city and its region, and thus the concept plan begins to innovate to adapt to these impacts. Recent weather patterns (record rain this summer) seem to indicate, that the rain patterns and climate might be changing. As the city expands, heatwaves will be exacerbated by vehicles, industrial processes and the presence of heat-retaining concrete and asphalt. Combined with habitat creation, the eco-corridors function as ecological living filters, living filters that includes urban Forest, water, urban agriculture, and, compatible mixed-urban development. The green infrastructure of trees and urban forests along eco-corridors and around the wetlands not only offer shade, but they cool the air by evaporating water. By adding more plants and trees, the system of wetlands and eco-corridors can reduce the temperature of the city as well as soak up excess stormwater. In addition to forests and urban agriculture, the natural drainage channels running along the eco-corridor and connecting, the system of wetlands, could become waterways for mobility. They could provide cooler green spaces as well as storage capacity for excess water. Housing programmes could be implemented along these corridors and around the wetlands. At a minimum all roofs of the houses along the corridors, should be white with the exception of solar and green roofs. White or light-coloured roofs reflect heat and can lower the overall temperature in the city as well as making individual buildings and homes cooler.

Current Stage

We have developed a new Structure Plan for Bahir Dar Regio-Politan City. The project phases listed above are in concept stage, feasibility stage (The fact that this of interest to the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy. The city mayor, the city council and the city representatives, is a first measurement of the political and institutional feasibility of the project and in advanced design stage.



Project Milestones

See 5 phases above and the expected timeframe is from 2020 to 2030.

ESG Impact

Healthy ecosystems are fundamental for well-being and economic development. The main operators of the proposed system of Green and Blue infrastructures are local communities, responsible for implementing land stewardship practices and for maintaining the Project over the long term. Green infrastructure typically operates at a landscape level, crossing property boundaries or jurisdictions and often involving multiple stakeholder groups. Understanding the costs and benefits for different groups, including women, is therefore important for success.


Healthy ecosystems are fundamental for well-being and economic development. The main operators and Beneficiaries of the proposed system of Green and Blue infrastructures are local communities, responsible for implementing land stewardship practices and for maintaining the Project over the long term. Green infrastructure typically operates at a landscape level, crossing property boundaries or jurisdictions and often involving multiple stakeholder groups. The people who are living in the rural and urban areas of Bahir Dar Regio-politan city are the expected beneficiaries and the target population are the people who are living in the rural and urban areas of Bahir Dar Regio-politan city. The 2019 total population of the Bahir Dar region-politan district is 582 thousand. Under high variant assumption, the size of population in 2035 is projected to be 1.38 million. By 2063 this size is expected to be 4 million. In addition, the following are also very important impacts to be taking into account. The project for Guido Bahir wetland would be synchronized with the creation of a new type of open public space: a cultural wetland and meadow at the river Bahir Dar could become the Cultural Capital of Ethiopia and Africa. Within this frame the city’s ambition is to create its cultural centre on the Meadow-wetland site, an area between the city centre and the Abby River.

The intention to create an identity for the area as a whole, while linking the city centre to the river. The meadow could be designed as a beautiful landscape park surrounded by a unifying ring of existing and new buildings such as a concert house, an exhibition hall, a centre for modern music and a school of arts management, The culture wetland will provide space for all forms of culture, for both traditional and less formal programs. The Streets from Kebele 7 and kebele 8 will be extended into the culture-site, forming a shared surface, allowing for restricted auto use and free movement for pedestrians and bicycles, while leaving a core open space. A slow steady slope descending from the ring’s edge to the riverfront is created, with existing trees preserved on a series of grassy mounds creating a flowing public space. The open space is envisioned as an extension of the river itself and connects the city more directly to the River. The project creates a new type of open public space – a Cultural wetland. The goal is to provide room for activities such that art, family, music, dance, literature, architectural, ecological and social programs can hang out together in this cultural wetland. The open space could further diversify the activities by creating a series of programmatically nonspecific, but spatially distinguished moments: flower gardens, reflecting ponds, sculpture plazas, an open market, a sand beach, an outdoor amphitheatre, an oval for street performance and a series of green mounds for casual leisure.

The cultural wetland would be intended to invite people and act as a “cultural laboratory”. It would offer space for performances and events. The culture wetland will also be the frame to restructure the international stadium area as a new urban expansion area for the city within its core area. Let us look briefly into this The direct connection of the Guido Bahir and the cultural wetland to the main water bodies of the city (the lake and the river) would create attractive conditions – for residential and commercial buildings alike. This will make the city centre more attractive and an area worth living in and thus reduce commuting distances. These systems of wetlands would structure the future stadium city as a strategic area for urban expansion within the core city. The system of wetlands and the eco-corridors at the western entry as part of the core-buffer-transition zones of UNESCO Bio-sphere reserve The ecological corridor at the western entry is a natural multifunctional green and blue infrastructure, that can also function as the airport’s buffer zone for noise and pollution mitigation, and, will be integrated with the buffer and transition zone of the biosphere reserve. Biosphere reserves have three interrelated zones that aim to fulfil three complementary and mutually reinforcing functions: | The eco-corridor as reserve of wildlife, conservation of biodiversity:

The core area(s) comprises a strictly protected ecosystem that contributes to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation. | The buffer zone surrounds or adjoins the core areas and is used for activities compatible with sound ecological practices that can reinforce scientific research, monitoring, training and education | The eco-corridor as a transition zones for the airport: The transition and area of cooperation is the part of the reserve where the greatest activity is allowed, fostering economic and human development that is socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable such as sustainable agriculture. The corridor therefore functions as a productive green belt to the airport. This is the outer area of the reserve where people live and work, using the natural resources of the area in a sustainable manner. Here the airport city will develop. Let us look at this briefly. These systems of wetlands would structure the future airport city as a strategic area for urban expansion within the core city. Transforming informal settlements into complex resilient habitats and infrastructure nodes The transformation of informal settlements along the lake waterfront will be part of the making of the above eco-corridor along the lakefront and for the making of the airport city.

In line with this national programme for the development of micro and small enterprise to address the challenge of urban unemployment, the concept plan also proposes a third set of interventions that aim at the transformation of the informal settlements in the city, into bankable resilient urban assets and projects. This project aims to building resilience in these complex environments. In order to Build resilience in such complex environments, Water-sensitive innovations are proposed to transform and improve the quality of the environment and of health in these informal environments. we propose a PROJECT: for natural green and blue sustainable and resource-efficient infrastructure systems that could be used in informal and formal neighbourhoods and for people to be able to access a clean environment. Creating an eco-industrial node in the city around the Gudo Bahir wetland parks This proposal is part of a wider programme aiming at the Bahir Dar’s green urban-industrial ecosystem. The Government of Ethiopia (GoE) wants the country to achieve a middle country (MIC) status before the end of 2025. Industrialization is seen by GoE as the way to achieve LMIC status. Industrialization is being promoted in Ethiopia by attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) and encouraging the development of local supply chains. In order to be able to attract FDI, and to sustainably develop domestic industries, strong green credentials are necessary. The economy needs to be developed in a manner which is ‘green’; namely, climate change impact resilient and environmentally sustainable.

Disregarding the imperative to go green has resulted in severe environmental damage characterising the economy of many other countries seeking to attain Middle Income Country (MIC) status and has contributed to global harm. Thus, being able to attract FDI means ensuring that individual businesses are green, by transforming industrial parks into eco-industrial parks. It is also mean that the encompassing urban-industrial ecosystem must be green. One cannot happen without the other. In order for the Ethiopian Government to be able to transform the country into a middle-income country (MIC) before the end of 2025, it needs not only to transform and renew rural and peri-urban areas (see above, the urban gardens and the metropolitan food markets of Bahir Dar), but, it needs to combine the above two modalities of the National Programme (Industrial parks development and regional cluster development for small and medium scale enterprises) into a green urban-industrial ecosystem. The conceptual plan for Bahir Dar aims at the construction of the green urban-industrial ecosystem of Bahir Dar City and its regio-politan city, as well as to the transformation/evolution of the industrial parks into eco-industrial parks.

Currently, industrial parks (existing, old and new, and those still to come), are appearing here and there inside the map of the city, with no apparent connection between them. A first step to construct the green urban-industrial ecosystem above is to begin to think of the future evolution of the industrial areas not as isolated industrial parks, but, as urban growth-clusters organized along the future rail transport infrastructure and development corridor. This development corridor might be anchored in the following five main urban growth-clusters nodes:

1. First node at the airport corridor (The western entry to the city: airport urban boulevard corridor above)

2. Second node at the existing traditional local industrial park (including the old textile industry).

3. Third node at the new industrial parks

4. Fourth node represented by a transition zone between the urban and rural continuum, made out by the culture and creative cluster

5. Fifth node at the eastern entry to the city around the agriculture and environmental university campus, composed by the forestry, timber and design of wood products clusters (Build the green urban-industrial Ecosystem Of Bahir Dar city at the eastern entry of the future development corridor).

Supporting the development in each cluster and in future towns along the rail transport corridor, is fundamental to begin building a green urban-industrial ecosystem for the city and its region and maximize green growth potential in Bahir Dar city. This will involve the development of livable resilient green industrial cities with a diversified housing offer, inside the urban growth clusters as well as along the corridor linking them (generating decent productive employment opportunities for the majority), and so as to catalyze progressive and systemic change towards green urban industrialization and low-carbon and climate resilient development across the city and its regio-politan city. The project proposal for the development of a livable resilient green industrial node and eco-industrial park around the Gudo Bahir wetland aims in this direction. Long-term planning of the industrial parks (2019-2035): Evolve the (current and new) industrial Parks into Eco-Industrial Parks Integrated Industrial parks in Bahir Dar: Re-grouping of industries that would traditionally be apart are placed together in areas zoned and planned for industrial development where they share the same infrastructure and environmental services. Sharing common wastewater treatment facilities, for example, is a way of improving environmental performance at a cost that a single industrial facility could never achieve on its own.

Regrouping also lets companies exploit opportunities that turn one firm’s waste into another’s input, such as reusing, or recycling resources like as water and plastics. Regrouping small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), opens the possibility to control their pollution Since regulators don’t have to be concerned with the emissions from each individual company but from the Industrial Park as a whole. Evolve the industrial Parks into Eco-Industrial Parks. Transform the existing and future industrial areas into eco-industrial parks and sustainable parks (In response to negative impact of industrial parks on sensitive resources such as aquifers). The Eco-Industrial Parks is a future-oriented eco-industrial development concept that integrates industry and nature to offer businesses prospects for growth, improve eco-systems and foster innovation (See project proposal for the creation of an innovation centres that articulates the green urban-industrial ecosystem with the university campus and the knowledge city. The Eco-Industrial Parks are different from usual Industrial Parks because they not only offer the possibility of sharing resources, but actively aim at promoting the exchange of services, materials, energy, water, waste and by-products.

The innovation clusters: The innovation cluster is directly linked to the industrial park, the university and the national train lines, which forms the basis for a transport node in the development that is linked to a commercial node as well as a cultural node. It mixes densities, embed the planning and integration of the industrial parks to the urban context, which will foster the creation of jobs, and inclusive development. Recommendations should be given on how to improve linkages between industrial parks, the local labor market and local companies; and how to support technical education and training for industries targeted by industrial park development strategy through aligning curricula of universities and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions with private firm labor requirements. The eventual destination of the industrial park is to develop comprehensive urban functions. Emphasize on industry-city integration and on the development of comprehensive urban functions (manufacturing industry, followed by the implantation of residential and other supporting commercial and service facilities, enhanced by comprehensive cultural and ecological landscaping, eventually forming a comprehensive urban complex). Other similar eco-corridors elsewhere in the city include: The river ecological corridor wildlife habitat and living filter urban projects and programmes for the sustainable development of the river corridor at the City central area.

A proposal for the new bridge, the inner-city ecological corridor and living filter (urban projects and programmes to Re-structure the green corridors at the downtown area and structure low carbon districts along them), the lake waterfront eco-corridor and living filter, Eco-corridor and living filter from Holy Saviour church to the Blue Nile river, crossing through the street of love, the eco-corridor to transform informal settlements into bankable resilient urban assets and projects. The Ecological Energy Network, a strategic design to transform areas in the proximity of power lines into the largest biodiversity corridor of Bahir Dar city. These areas are normally subject to development restrictions, and they often end up being neglected, especially in urban areas. If transformed into green corridors, they would provide additional value for urban environment and communities. The intention is to take advantage of neglected urban pockets to bring ecology into the urban environment, thereby encouraging healthy lifestyles through direct contact with nature.The city water and forest parks at different spatial scales The above integrated system of water and forest parks function as a natural infrastructure for water security and services in relation to the water cycle (quantity quality and risks of water), and at different spatial scales (Regional-metro-local water plans).

The Gudo-Bahir wetland project will be the first step in building this integrated system of wetlands, river and lake. These integrated systems of existing wetlands and their natural drainage channels conform a system of green and blue fingers and ecological filters that break the orthogonal urban grid. This integrated system is re-designed according to the landscape topography, to become a versatile system of green and blue spaces for: | eco-infrastructure water services, | hill forests | food production, | renewable energy production, | housing and services, recreation, and biodiversity | system of parks (the waterfront park, the river park, the Gudo Bahir park, the wetlands park) | The park along the river (selam park and the street of love pedestrian and bicycle corridor), is integrated with two other major parks: o The lake park o the Gudo Bahir wetland, Hill and Forest Park and o the wetlands park The above system will frame the transformation of both, the downtown area and the lake waterfront park, as well as of some industrial parks (from isolated industrial parks to eco-industrial parks). The project for the new bridge across the Blue Nile, should be understood as an opportunity to propose a plan to restructure the eastern part of the city along the river and around the here proposed Salam Park and the street of love pedestrian and bicycle corridor. This park will include a series of LANDMARKS already located in the area (such as churches, palaces, landscapes, the old textile factory, monuments, landmark buildings, the new and the renewed bridges, the hippo’s habitat. This park will be a very important element within the transformation of the river-front. The hippo’s habitat is one of its most important landmarks. Let us look briefly at it.

The wildlife habitats of the city Recover the Wetlands along the river and their Ecosystem Services as providers of key urban infrastructure services and empower the hypo’s habitat. The construction of buildings and roads in the urban environment of the city has been about accommodating the rapidly increasing populations moving to the city’s urban areas from rural regions. This has resulted in the removal of natural rainwater-retaining and flood controlling infrastructures including woodlands, green spaces, natural lakes and wetlands for rainwater recycling processes Re-establish the wetlands as natural rainwater-retaining infrastructures: | The wetlands are overflow areas for the river and as such are natural rainwater buffers. The wetlands buffer the polluted run-off from precipitation and slow the rate at which it drains away. Urban wetlands are capable of purifying urban rainwater run-off efficiently and cheaply. Urban wetlands can be used to maintain or improve the quality of surface water | Bring back the fragmented wetlands as natural rainwater-retaining infrastructure (but also woodlands, green spaces, natural lakes) for rainwater recycling processes. | Stormwater will not be discharged as wastewater. It will be absorbed into the soil; it will be added to groundwater reserves to conserve water, or reused as water resources for sustaining people’s lives, abodes and agricultural production.

The role of the urban gardens and the system of wetlands in the Pedestrianization of the downtown area and of its retail landscape Urban development in Bahir Dar and its region will result in a rise in a number of cities, along with concentration of population in cities and existing urban agglomerations in the Amhara region, in Bahir Dar’s regio-politan capital city and in Bahir Dar’s core city. With this, a notable rise in demand for vehicles should be expected for inter-city or intra-city mobility of goods and passengers (increase in vehicular population). A rise in number of vehicles might also be expected. These trends indicate the need for viable passenger mobility solutions. Conventional fuel powered vehicles, currently available as mobility modes largely contribute to pollution and emissions, leading to poor air quality, health problems and various other issues. The need to combat these issues must be realized by the city and alternative mobility options should be explored. A pedestrian-friendly approach could transform key urban areas within the core- city into vibrant social, living and retail hubs. A pedestrian-friendly city centre in Bahir Dar, efficient business operations and smooth traffic can coexist through a holistic approach. Bahir Dar’s retail and new residential landscapes (at the downtown area), is in danger of falling behind, and needs to evolve.

To reinvigorate retail, the answer could lie in addressing one of the city’s major challenges: a lack of pedestrian-friendly urban space. A walkable pedestrianised space with diverse layers of retail, interesting shops, entertainment, activities, and food and beverage options can deliver a vibrant destination for people to enjoy, get excited about, and spend time in – increasing footfall and ultimately drive higher retail sales. Beyond ensuring that businesses and traffic are not disrupted, adequate urban design elements also need to be considered – public amenities such as attractive greenery, shaded seating, water fountains and free Wi-fi can all impact the success of a pedestrian zone This will allow for an integrated commercial, residential, working and leisure hub in the core city that conveniently connects adjacent districts and neighbourhoods. In this more walkable and connected core city centre, residents and tourists alike could walk to the future central lakefront park development with ease. The pedestrianization (including bicycle and public transportation (e.g., electric vehicles), will be anchored in the following four mayor city parks: 1. The lake waterfront park 2. The Gudo Bahir wetlands parks 3. The central eco-corridor park 4. The Selam park and the Street of love pedestrian and bicycle corridor ad part of the river park The above system of parks will be integrated with the system of wetlands and urban gardens defined above, so that water from the lake will be also brought into the downtown area.

Now, we need to anchor this plan for the pedestrianization of the core-city in a sustainable system of low carbon mobility. In broad terms, this system has the main following components: | The radial and ring system of the ecocity | The superblock-concept | One-way streets and Multimodal (pedestrian-bicycle-public transport) mobility options for the first and last mile connectivity | Rapid Transit systems | In line with the National project on micro and small enterprise development to address the challenge of (rural-peri-urban) urban unemployment, transform auto-rickshaws-Bajaj into smart electric vehicles. The Pedestrianization of the downtown area and of its retail landscape around the system of wetlands and eco-corridors proposed above, would reframe the city centre as Bahir Dar’s main business districts (the downtown commercial core of a city).This will allow for a new kind of neighbourhood for Bahir Dar: the Central Recreational District where a significant beauty premium for the city could be operationalized.

SDG Goals

SDG 1: No PovertySDG 2: Zero HungerSDG 3: Good Health and Well-beingSDG 4: Quality EducationSDG 5: Gender EqualitySDG 6: Clean Water and SanitationSDG 7: Affordable and Clean EnergySDG 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthSDG 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureSDG 10: Reduced InequalitySDG 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesSDG 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionSDG 13: Climate ActionSDG 14: Life Below WaterSDG 15: Life on LandSDG 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsSDG 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goals


In the structure plan of Bahir Dar regio-politan city, there are 11 goals and all the Goals are aligned with the SDGs. In the preparation process much efforts have been made with the UN-Habitat experts to align the Goals of the Structure Plan of Bahir Dar with the Global, Continental, National, Regional and Local Agendas on Urban Development. So, most of the SDGs have been incorporated in our general project (see above IMPACTS).

Risks and Limitations

What are the key risks, constraints and dependencies related to the project?

The likely risks are:
the accelerated process of urbanization and industrialization is encroaching on these valuable green and blue landscapes and thus destroying the ecosystem services, biodiversity and key urban infrastructure services they could provide to the city for a very low cost (phases 1-5 above).

The expected constraints are:
Turnover of officials (institutional discontinuity), customs lengthy process, availability of fund, right of way problems.

The dependencies are:
the transformation of Ethiopia into a middle class country depends on the success of the process of industrialization which in turn depends on the greening of the process of urbanization and its economy, which depends on the recognition of the city’s eco-system services as embedded in the river, the lake, the wetland landscapes, the hills and the floodplains. The successful pilot project at Gudo Bahir” wetland would then be scaled up to the entire system of wetlands inhabiting the core city along the river and the lake, so as to constitute a comprehensive network of blue and green landscapes for the provision of ecosystem services, biodiversity and key urban infrastructure services to the city and all its citizens and communities. In short, the projects are highly depending on the Government commitment, availability of fund, technology, Skilled manpower, public participation.

Risk mitigation and continuity

We are working by involving all interested groups particularly the people who will be directly benefited from the project. Making the community the part of the project and creating sense of belongingness will able to execute the project and ensure its continuity. Experience of other projects in the area showed that if the project is local community development oriented and allows them to participate in each phases of the project ensure the continuity of the project. In fact, financial constraint may be beyond the community capacity. So, the risk can be mitigated creating awareness for the community. This group even will control illegal deeds.


Type of Investment


Financing Structure

Public Private Partnership

Secured Investment

As it has been mentioned above, we have prepared new Structure Plan for Bahir Dar Regio-politan City which will come to in effect by 2019/2020 and will serve for the coming ten years. The city should develop the projects so as to realize the formulated vision of the city. This means the city administration will allocate some amount of budget for different infrastructures. At this stage private investors (Omera Investment Technology Group) are also showing interests by requesting land to develop affordable house. The Urban Gardens of Bahir Dar and the metropolitan Food gardens are fundamental components for the low-carbon economic (and means of living) development plan required by the greening of industrialization and urbanization in Bahir Dar. This plan also needs funding and investment (As well as expertise to facilitate implementation). The coordination of financial organisational and human resources is likely to be particularly challenging. The key issue here is the exploration of mechanisms for mobilising resources and the potential location for such resources. Urban policy makers have to take in the full costs, as well as the benefits, of the urban beautify of the city into account. They could mandate that developers who create new condominiums adjacent to publicly created and valued amenities above, pay more in taxes, provide some affordable housing, or employ local residents in their projects. The city could devote the increased revenues from the eco-infrastructure and beautiful projects above to affordable housing, workforce development, and the reduction of concentrated poverty.

Committed Government Funding


National and Subnational Investors


Committed Private Funding



Technical Support Required



Governmental Buy-in

Yes. National Level, Subnational/regional level

Other Forms of Governmental Support

Since land is owned by the government (regulatory body), the area that will be developed secured by the regional government (following the regulation the government will make the land free from the third party).

National Ministries Involved

The proposal for the Urban Gardens of Bahir Dar is framed within the context of the evolution of Ethiopian environmental policy and sustainable industrialization policy:

Policy Research and Advisory Bureau of Ministry of Urban Development and Construction; Key contact Person: Abuye Aneley, Head Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy. Dr. Yohannes Zerihun, Director, Ecohydrology Directorate and Coordinator, African Regional Center for Ecohydrology u/a of UNESCO Basins Development Authority Ministry of Water,Irrigation and Energy.

SubNational Ministries Involved

•Amhara National Regional State, Bureau of Urban Development, Housing and Construction: Key Contact Person: Ato Fenta Dejen, Bureau Head

•Amhara National Regional State, Agency for Lake Tana and other water Bodies. Key Contact Person: Dr. Ayalew Wondie, Director

Other Entities Involved

Bahir Dar City Administration; Key Contact Person: Ato Melak Alemu, City Manager

Licenses and Permits



  • 10th February 2020

    Cities Investment Platform in progress - updates pending

  • 10th February 2020

    Project featured on the Cities Investment Platform, which was launched at the Tenth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10)

Supporting Documents

No supporting documents included.



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