Gefersa reservoir

Country/territory: Ethiopia

IBA criteria met: A1, A3, A4i (1996)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 5,700 ha

Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society

Site description (baseline)
Gefersa reservoir is 18 km west of Addis Ababa (by road) in West Shewa Zone. Although within Oromiya Region, Addis Ababa Water and Sewage Authority have administrative control of the area. The reservoir is in a shallow basin about 10 km wide, stretching between the Wechacha and Entoto mountains. The Gefersa river and its feeder streams are part of the Akaki river catchment. The reservoir formed behind a main dam built in 1938 (and modified in 1954) and a second, smaller dam, built in 1966, upstream from the main dam; the water-storage capacities are c.6,500,000 m3 and c.1,500,000 m3 respectively, and the two dams control a catchment area of c.5,700 ha. The reservoirs supply treated water to Addis Ababa. The reservoirs themselves are virtually free of large aquatic plants, probably due to the constantly fluctuating water-level. Patches of sedge occur where permanent streams flow into the reservoirs, and on the western and southern sides of the main reservoir, long, shallow valleys with small streams support swampy vegetation. The area immediately around the dam and on the northern side of the reservoir is enclosed and supports well-established exotic trees of Eucalyptus globulus, Cupressus lusitanica, Pinus patula and P. sylvestris. Meadows in this enclosure have been protected from grazing for many years and have developed a flora quite different from the heavily used areas outside. Much of the area surrounding the reservoirs has been closely planted with Eucalyptus, although there are some patches of small trees, e.g. Maesa lanceolata, Buddleja polystachya and Maytenus obscura, the climbers Clematis simensis and Jasminum abyssinicum and also bushes of Rosa abyssinica. All other areas are densely inhabited and farmed. The valley bottoms are used as pastureland that floods in the rainy season, while the higher slopes are cultivated, with barley and wheat the main crops, and smaller areas of pulses (field pea and faba bean) and oil crops (niger seed and linseed).

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 3 for key species. Sarothrura ayresi occurred before the swamp was developed into a reservoir, but it almost certainly no longer does so. Rougetius rougetii is present in small numbers, however. The edges of the reservoir form a good habitat and suitable feeding ground for a sizable population of Cyanochen cyanopterus. Away from the water, grassland species such as Macronyx flavicollis can be seen (in small numbers), and Serinus nigriceps often occurs. The woodland around the reservoir supports a further range of Afrotropical Highlands biome species. A good variety of Palearctic and Afro-tropical ducks and geese occur at Gefersa, the most common Afrotropical species being Cyanochen cyanopterus (maximum monthly average, August, 154).

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Gefersa reservoir. Downloaded from on 31/05/2023.