Discussion Papers

No.790 Towards the sustainability of the agricultural landscape The case of the watershed management and implication in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia

by Engdawork Assefa

May 2020


Watershed deterioration in Ethiopia is significant in debilitating and modifying the agricultural landscape system, causing cumulative and synergetic effects on resources, climate and food security that deteriorate the ecological services and the socioeconomic conditions of the people who mainly depends on agriculture. On the other hand, practices and strategies of watershed management have also been conducted to avert mainly land degradation problem since the 1980s. The objective of the study was to assess the watershed management practices in averting the problems of watershed degradation and its implications in enhancing food security and fostering the mitigations and adoption of climate change in the southern Rift Valley. The study employed various methods of collecting data (satellite image, interviews, group discussion) and analysis (statistics, GIS). The results showed that the watershed marked by different forms land degradation among which the main ones are soil erosion, gully erosion, grazing land deterioration and deforestation which in turn affect the agricultural productivity of the area. A wide range of watershed management practices such as agronomy (crop rotation, crop diversification, improved seed, drought-resistant crop), irrigation, terrace, composting, agroforestry and mulching have been implemented. These practices resulted in the increase of forest areas, carbon sequestration, enhanced the soil fertility and reduction of soil erosion which all contributed to the enhancement of food security and climate change adoptions. However, the effective adoption and implementation of the watershed management practices are affected by a wide range of demographic, physical, economic and institutional factors. Among others, sex of household heads, education level of household heads, number of livestock holding, access to extension services and being a member of rural organizations affect adoption of composting positively and significantly. Also, farm distance affects composting practices negatively. The probability of applying agroforestry is positively and significantly associated with sex of household heads, farmers’ field day participation and knowledge on environmental regulation. Besides farm distance affect the likelihood of agroforestry application negatively. The policy makers and planners should thus take into account the cumulative and synergy of the interactions of watershed management, climate change and food security for the planning of the sustainable development of agriculture.

Keywords: watershed, land degradation, forest, climate change, mitigation, sustainable development, Ethiopia

JEL classification: Q01, Q20

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