Prof Seifu Kebede Gurmessa

Tel: +27 33 260 6087

Email:  Prof Seifu Kebede Gurmessa


School of Engineering

University of KwaZulu-Natal


Private Bag X01




Associate Professor of Hydrology


Professor Seifu Kebede Gurmessa obtained BSc degree in Geology (1994) and MSc degree in Hydrogeology (1999) both from Addis Ababa University. He obtained PhD degree from the University of Avignon, France in 2005 in Isotope (tracer) hydrogeology. Between 1994 and 1999, he served the School of Earth Sciences, Addis Ababa University as research assistant and junior lecturer. For about one year (2005-2006), after completion of his PhD work, he served the International Atomic Energy Agency as Junior Professional Officer. On return to the Addis Ababa University in 2007, he was appointed as Assistant Professor of Hydrogeology and later in 2013, he has been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor of Hydrogeology. He joined the School of Agricultural Earth and Environmental Sciences and Center of Water Resources Research, University of KwaZulu Natal in September 2019.

He authors more than 40 peer reviewed scientific articles in various hydrology topics and a book on groundwater (see below).

His research interest rests in tracer hydrology and geochemistry as applied to water resources management, surface water groundwater interaction studies, and open water evaporation studies. He has been involved in research activities related to the multifaceted dimensions of groundwater including -rural water supply, groundwater irrigation, and human health.

He has work relation with a few international organizations, UN agencies, river basin organizations, NGOs and the private sector operating in Africa. He travelled in more than 20 African countries in relation to capacity building projects around tracer hydrology and groundwater.


Doctorat (PhD), University of Avignon, France [2005]
Thesis title: Environmental isotopes and geochemistry in investigating groundwater and lake hydrology: cases from the Blue Nile basin & the Ethiopian Rift (Ethiopia)

MSc, Hydrogeology/Engineering Geology, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia [1999]
Thesis title: Hydrology and Hydrochemistry of Bishoftu Crater Lakes (Ethiopia), Hydrological, hydrochemical and oxygen isotope modelling.

BSc, Geology and Geophysics, Addis Ababa University [1994]

Current Research Projects

  • October 2018 to 2022: Use of Isotope Techniques for the Evaluation of Water Sources for Domestic Supply in Urban Areas; the Case of Addis Ababa City. Financed by IAEA Coordinated Research Project Scheme (CRP) (PI).
  • May 2015- April 2020: Hidden Crisis: unraveling current failures for future success/resilience in rural groundwater supply (Fund DFID Upgro program, Co-I)
  • April 2016-October 2017: Monitoring the impact of the 2015/16 El Nino on rural water insecurity in Ethiopia: learning lessons for climate resilience [Fund DFID- NERC, PI)
  • REACH Project – Improving water security for the poor (2015-2022): A global research program to improve water security for millions of poor people in Asia and Africa [fund: DFID, PI is University of Oxford


Recent Publications

  • Seifu Kebede, 2013: Groundwater in Ethiopia: Features, vital numbers and opportunities, 297pp, Springer, ISBN 978-3-642-30390-6, Berlin
  • MacDonald, A. M., Bell, R. A., Kebede, S., Azagegn, T., Tadesse, Y., Pichon, F., … & Calow, R. C. (2019). Groundwater and resilience to drought in the Ethiopian Highlands. Environmental Research Letters (in press)
  • N. Colombani · Seifu Kebede, E. Salemi, M. Mastrocicco (2018) Recognition of the anthropogenic contribution to the input of fluoride in urban recharge. Environmental Earth Sciences (2018) 77:440
  • N. Colombani, D. Di Giuseppe, Seifu Kebede, M. Mastrocicco (2018). Assessment of the anthropogenic fluoride export in Addis Ababa urban environment (Ethiopia). Journal of Geochemical Exploration 190 (2018) 390–399
  • Seifu Kebede, Osman Abdella, Calist Tindimugaya, Ahmed Saifalnaser (2016). Surface water-groundwater interaction in the Nile River basin: isotopic and piezometric evidence [accepted and with publisher; Hydrogeology Journal]
  • Seifu Kebede, Yves Travi (2011). The origin of d18O and d2H signal of Meteoric waters in Ethiopia. Quaternary international, 212:4-12
  • Seifu Kebede, Girum Admasu, Yves Travi (2011). Estimating ungauged cachment flows from Lake Tana flood plains. Environmental and Health studies, 47: 73-86. 
  • Gaddissa Deyassa, Seifu Kebede, Tenalem Ayenew, Tesfaye Kidane (2014) Crystalline basement aquifers of Ethiopia: Their genesis, classification and aquifer properties. Journal of African Earth Sciences. Journal of African Earth Sciences 100: 191–202 
  • Seifu Kebede, Yves Travi and Susanne Stadler (2010). Groundwaters of the Central Ethiopian Rift: Diagnostic trends in trace elements, δ18O, and major elements, Environmental Earth Sciences, 61: 1641-1655.
  • Anja Bretzler, Karsten Osenbrück, Susanne Stadler, Janina Klausd, Seifu Kebede, Richard Gloaguen, (2011 ). Groundwater origin and dynamics in the Main Ethiopian Rift investigated using a multi-isotope approach, Journal of Hydrology doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2011.03.022
  • Seifu Kebede; Yves Travi ; Asfawossen Asrat; Tamiru Alemayehu, Tenalem Ayenew and Zenaw Tessema (2009). Groundwater origin and flow along selected mountain-valley transects in Ethiopian rift volcanic aquifers. Hydrogeology Journal DOI 10.1007/s10040-007-0210-0
  • Seifu Kebede, Yves Travi, and K Rozanski (2009) The δ18O and δ2H enrichment of Ethiopian Lakes, Journal of Hydrology, 365: 173-182.
  • Kebede S., Y. Travi, Alemayehu, V. Marc 2006 Impact of rainfall variation and water resources development on lake Tana level and its Blue Nile flow. Journal of Hydrology, 316; 233-247
  • Ayenew, T., Kebede S., and Alemayehu T. (2008) Environmental isotopes and hydrochemical study applied to surface water and groundwater interaction in the Awash River basin. Hydrological Processes Journal DOI 10.1002/hyp.6716
  • Kebede S., Travi, Y; Alemayehu, T., Ayenew, T., 2006. Groundwater recharge, circulation and geochemical evolution in the source region of the Blue Nile River, Ethiopia. Applied Geochemistry, 20: 1658-1676. 
  • Kebede S., Lamb H.F., Leng M., Telford R., and Umer M. (2002). Lake groundwater relation, oxygen isotope balance and oxygen isotope modeling of the Bishoftu crater lakes. Advances in Global Change Research, 12: 261-276.
  • Munksgard et al., 2019. Data Descriptor: Daily observations of stable isotope ratios of rainfall in the tropics. Nature Scientific Reports, 9:14419