Oval 377 Created with Sketch Beta. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The current and planned work in Addis Ababa is based primarily on stakeholder engagements. During city visits, in depth consultations take place with various departments in the City Administration as well as with a number of key stakeholders.

UNA Programme cities 2019


  • In 2017, Addis Ababa had an estimated population of 4 million.
  • 40% of city growth is due to rural-urban migration.
  • 80% of housing is classified as informal.
  • Addis Ababa has many urban rivers that flow through the city.
  • Over a third of the total solid waste in the city is not collected and is often dumped in open spaces and rivers.
  • Discharge into rivers by industry is a critical issue.
  • Access to rivers is limited due to residential settlements occupying riversides.

Oval 377 Created with Sketch Beta. 2016 Achievements

As part of the EO4CBI project (lead by Space4environment), remote sensed satellite data was produced for the Addis Ababa City Administration. The data produced included:

  • Percentage of natural areas
  • Connectivity to natural areas
  • Percentage permeable surfaces
  • Percentage tree cover density.

Oval 377 Created with Sketch Beta. 2017 Achievements

Engagement occurred with roughly 40 city officials with regards to a) the socio-economic importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services and b) to co-produce the Sustainable River-Based Urban Planning Guideline.

Presentations used to engage on the above include:

1) The value of biodiversity for thriving, green and healthy cities.

2) Draft components of the Sustainable River Based Urban Planning Guideline.

3)  Transformation in cities: Urbanisation, ecosystem services & resilience – challenges and opportunities.

Minecraft, the second best-selling video game of all time, is being used by UN-Habitat as a means of engaging community members to design public open spaces. ICLEI Africa, in collaboration with the Addis Ababa City Administration and UN-Habitat held a workshop, using the Minecraft tool, to design the Ras Mekonnen site in Addis Ababa. City officials, as well as community stakeholders, took part in the workshop, with a focus on the inclusion of youth and women. The 4-day workshop included a site visit—exploring the opportunities and challenges that the site presented—and using the Minecraft game to design the site. By the end of the workshop 12 designs were submitted to the Addis Ababa City Administration; these designs formed the basis of the final design for the site.

To read more about using Minecraft to design public open spaces, see the popular article. This article also touches on some of the outcomes from the Minecraft experience, as well as outlines effective public participation processes in helping co-design open green spaces in cities.

A monitoring, evaluation and learning framework has been developed to capture all Minecraft related activities and facilitate lesson sharing. Using this framework, the process of Minecraft, lessons learnt and the general lessons for the participatory design of green open spaces in African cities were documented. A video, which innovatively shares the experiences and lessons learnt during the Minecraft related activities has developed, and can be found here: Crafting better cities with nature: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

Oval 377 Created with Sketch Beta. 2018 Achievements

Cities participating in the UNA Rivers Project, namely Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Lilongwe in Malawi were invited to attend and participate in a city to city knowledge exchange event in Entebbe, Uganda. Participating cities were able to share key challenges affecting their city’s development as well as share and learn about common African solutions which could be replicated in each city.

Since this exchange, there has been increasing interest from the city officials in Addis Ababa to continue sharing challenges and discuss potential solutions within Addis Ababa as well as with neighbouring cities in Ethiopia.

In 2018, the process of developing a “review of opportunities for public-private partnerships to harness nature-based solutions in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia” was initiated. The document aimed to support Addis Ababa with identifying opportunities to create public-private partnerships (PPP) to implement nature-based solutions in the city.

The outcomes and findings from the first draft were presented to the Addis Ababa Mayor and Council in November 2018. This has opened the doors to other opportunities and the impact of this activity includes:

  •  The Justice Bureau is currently preparing a draft PPP proclamation to be tabled at Cabinet;
  • Once the PPP proclamation is granted, the Justice Bureau will be setting up a specific PPP Directorate to ensure that opportunities for PPP to harness nature-based solutions can be realised; and
  • The Addis Ababa Resilience Office has requested an Innovative Finance Strategy for Nature-Based Solutions to be developed in support of the existing work. This will be supported by the UNA Rivers project and has been initiated.

The final draft report was submitted in 2019.

Over the course of 2018, capacity building was undertaken with approximately 50 city officials on the following:

  • The value of rivers for supporting and enhancing human livelihoods in Addis Ababa;
  • How to use the Sustainable River Based Urban Planning Guidelines (see above); and
  • Findings of the ‘Review of opportunities for public-private partnerships to harness nature-based solutions in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Based on a landscape plan developed using the Minecraft Tool, ICLEI Africa upgraded the Ras Mekonnen site in Addis Ababa from an underutilized informal waste dump to an interactive and inclusive urban park. Components implemented, in close partnership with the Addis Ababa City Authority and UN-Habitat, included:

  • Removing waste from a small river running through the site;
  • Awareness raising with the community surrounding the site on the value of nature;
  • Development of a bike/ running lane for enhanced eco-mobility in the city;
  • Using a local artist to paint a mosaic mural, which depicts the value of urban natural assets, on a retaining wall;
  • Providing fixed trash bins which have been locally designed and produced, and artistically profile the value of nature;
  • Constructing fixed benches from recycled material which have also been artistically decorated to depict the value of nature;
  • Constructing a sign that profiles the importance of nature based solutions; and
  • Using indigenous plants, greening and planting of roughly 25% (450m2) of the site.

ICLEI Africa is currently working closely with the Addis Ababa City Authority and UN-Habitat to rehabilitate and upgrade the Ras Mekonnen site (see above). The partnership approach and resulting regeneration of the site has been so positively received by both local communities and city authorities alike, that the following has been noted across the city:

  • The Addis Ababa Beautification Office is replicating aspects of the site regeneration at other sites across the city (e.g. development of green open spaces for the public to connect with nature, development of tree-lined running lanes etc.); and
  •  UN-Habitat is taking the key lessons learnt from the Ras Mekonnen site and replicating the regeneration process in 5 other Ethiopian cities in the northern part of Ethiopia.

Oval 377 Created with Sketch Beta. 2019 Achievements

As part of the 100 Resilient Cities movement, Addis Ababa successfully launched their resilience office. The UNA programme is supporting the initiatives of this office, including supporting the implementation of the resilience plan of the city through alignment with the PPP recommendations (see above) that were generated in 2018

Oval 377 Created with Sketch Beta. Overarching strategic achievements

Other higher level achievements in Addis Ababa include:

  1. Co-development of the Sustainable River-Based Urban Planning Guidelines, and identification of entry points for mainstreaming of the guideline.
  2. Enabling improved coordination between city departments.
  3. Attendance the inauguration of ten new city parks in Addis Ababa.

Oval 377 Created with Sketch Beta. Gallery

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