Water is an essential element for the environment, food security and sustainable development. However, uncoordinated and competitive use of the resource can lead water to face the “tragedy of the commons”. Fragmented effects done so far in watershed management did not bring significant changes. Integrated water resource management is the ideal solution for sustainable development of the basins. This paper is targeted at assessing the challenges and opportunities of implementing integrated water resource management intervention in Omo-Gibe basin. The sample micro watersheds were strategically selected considering its accessibility for four-wheel vehicle and horse transportation. Five percent of the sample respondents were randomly selected for interview. Data were collected from all relevant sources through field observation, key informants interview, focused group discussion, household survey and review of documents. The collected data were analyzed by means of descriptive statistics including chi-square and t-test, using SPSS vision 20. The evidence in the basin shows that biophysical, socio economic and hydro political factors govern the implementation of integrated water resource management. Large proportion (65%) of steeply slope and land degradation, lack of understanding of IWRM principles and practices (72%), absence of river basin authority, no habit for planning together, lack of water resource infrastructure and innovation (81.9%), and weak local institutions commitment to transfer principles into practices were the major problems of the basin. In spite of having those limiting factors, the effort of the government through making policy on water resource management is a prospect for the basin, besides harmonious cultural interaction of the community to live together with nature and themselves. The Omo-Gibe River Basin has right to exist in harmony with its ecosystem to function sustainably. Human induced factors were limiting the wise use of scarce natural resources in the basin. Therefore, successful implementation of integrated water resource management though developing river basin authority, capacity building and enabling the environment is important for the basin, and for the country at large.
Key words: Basin authority, capacity building, enabling environment, river.
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