Journal Article Soil erosion and conservation in Ethiopia : A review

Nigussie, Haregeweyn  ,  Tsunekawa, Atsushi  ,  Jan, Nyssen  ,  Jean, Poesen  ,  Tsubo, Mitsuru  ,  Derege Tsegaye Meshesha,  ,  Brigitta, Schütt  ,  Enyew, Adgo  ,  Firew, Tegegne

39 ( 6 )  , pp.750 - 774 , 201509 , SAGE
This paper reviews Ethiopia’s experience and research progress in past soil and water conservation (SWC) efforts and suggests possible solutions for improvement. Although indigenous SWC techniques date back to 400 BC, institutionalized SWC activity in Ethiopia became significant only after the 1970s. At least six national SWC related programs have been initiated since the 1970s and their focus over time has shifted from food relief to land conservation and then to livelihoods. The overall current soil erosion rates are highly variable and large by international standards, and sheet, rill, and gully erosion are the dominant processes. The influence of human activities on the landscape has traditionally been deleterious, but this trend seems to have recently reversed in some parts of the country following the engagement of the communities in land management. The efficiency of SWC measures show mixed results that are influenced by the type of measures and the agro-ecology under which they were implemented; in general, the relative performance of the interventions is better in the drylands as compared to humid areas. Methodological limitations also occur when addressing the economic aspects related to benefits of ecosystem services and other externalities. Although farmers have shown an increased understanding of the soil erosion problem, SWC efforts face a host of barriers related to limited access to capital, limited benefits, land tenure insecurity, limited technology choices and technical support, and poor community participation. In general SWC research in Ethiopia is fragmented and not comprehensive, mainly because of a lack of participatory research, field observations, and adoptable methods to evaluate impacts. A potentially feasible approach to expand and sustain SWC programs is to attract benefits from global carbon markets. Moreover, a dedicated institution responsible for overseeing the research–extension linkage of SWC interventions of the country should be established.

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