The Neptun Water Prize is the Austrian environmental and innovation prize on water related topics and has five specialist categories: research, creative, education, municipality, and Vienna. The jury selected the project submitted by our scholarship holder Geda Kebede Oncho for the first place in the category of “research”. The winning project Sustainable use of surface waters in the Ethiopian highlands is part of his PhD research and was conducted within the APPEAR project LARIMA, a cooperation between Ambo University Ethiopia, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna and TU Vienna. Geda Kebede Oncho is currently a PhD candidate at the Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management, BOKU.
In Ethiopia, people still rely partly or entirely on surface water to meet their daily water needs e.g., drinking water, household purposes, watering livestock, irrigating fields. The study tested the indicative power of different indicators in assessment systems for sustainable use of Ethiopian freshwaters. The jury sees the project not only as a successful example of transcontinental research between Austria and Ethiopia in the field of water use but also underlines the sustainable impact as structures and capacities in water management have been built up. Raising awareness concerning all aspects of improving the water quality is highly relevant for the local population. In particular, the jury emphasizes the joint learning outcome regarding participation, that can be beneficial to the Austrian water (quality) management sector.
In the online event on 15 March 2021, Federal Minister for Agriculture, Regions and Tourism Elisabeth Köstinger and the Neptun Water Prize 2021 partners declared the winners. The scientific supervisors of the PhD study, Prof. Wolfram Graf, and Prof. Andreas Farnleitner, received the certificates in Vienna on behalf of the research team.
Geda Kebede Oncho is a lecturer at the Department of Biology, Ambo University since 2008. Currently, he is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management (IHG), University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna. He served as the head of the Biology Department at Ambo University. While working at the University of Ambo, Geda has been involved in coordinating and implementing activities of the LARIMA project. He obtained a master’s degree in applied microbiology from Addis Ababa University, and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Haramaya University.