Facilitating livelihoods diversification through flood-based land restoration in pastoral systems of Afar, Ethiopia

Amede, T and Van den Akker, E and Berdel, W and Keller, C and Tilahun, G and Dejen, A and Legesse, G and Abebe, H (2020) Facilitating livelihoods diversification through flood-based land restoration in pastoral systems of Afar, Ethiopia. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems (TSI). pp. 1-12. ISSN 1742-1705

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The pastoral systems of Eastern Africa have been affected by the alternated incidence of recurrent drought and flood for the last decades, aggravating poverty and local conflicts. We have introduced an innovation to convert floods to productive use using water spreading weirs (WSW) as an entry point to capture and spread the torrential flood emerging in the neighboring highlands into rangelands and crop fields of low-lying pastoral systems in Afar, Ethiopia. The productivity and landscape feature have changed from an abandoned field to a productive landscape within 3 years of intervention. The flood patterns and sediment loads created at least four different crop management zones and productivity levels. Based on moisture and nutrient regimes, we developed land suitability maps for integrating crops and forages fitting to specific niches. The outcome was a fast recovery of landscapes, with 150% biomass yield increment, increased access to dry season feed and food. These positive outcomes could be attributed to the proper design of weirs, joint planning and execution between pastoralists, researchers and development agents, identification and availing best-fitting varieties for each management zone and developing simple GIS-based parcel level maps to guide development agents and pastoralists. The major ‘agents’ were community leaders (‘Kedoh Abbobati’) who keenly debated potential benefits and drawbacks of innovations, enforced customary rules and byelaw and suggested changes in approaches and choices of interventions. In general, an innovation system approach helped to create local confidence, attract attention of government institutions and helped local actors to identify investment areas, develop implementation strategies to increase productivity, define changes as it occurs and minimize conflicts between competing communities. However, the risk of de facto use of a plot of communal land translating into long-term occupation and ownership may be impacting a communal territory and social cohesion that was subject to other collective choice customary rules.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Research Program : East & Southern Africa
CRP: CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bylaws, Crop, Flood, Forage, Pastoralists, Risk, Water-Spreading weirs
Subjects: Others > Floods
Others > Livelihoods
Others > Water Conservation
Depositing User: Mr Arun S
Date Deposited: 04 May 2020 16:21
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 16:21
URI: http://oar.icrisat.org/id/eprint/11498
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1742170520000058
Funders: BMZ-Germany through GIZ-SDR Ethiopia, CGIAR Research Program Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE)
Acknowledgement: This research was supported by BMZ-Germany, through GIZ-SDR Ethiopia and the CGIAR Research Program Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) which are carried out with support from the CGIAR Trust Fund and through bilateral funding agreements. We thank the communities and local authorities, particularly the Pastoral Agricultural Development Office (PADO) of Chifra and Yallo districts for facilitating our engagement. We also acknowledge the strong technical support from Dr Mezgebu Getnet, Tadesse Gashaw, Dr Mohammed Abate, Abubeker Mohammed, Mohammed Abdulatife, and local support of Indris Siraje and Henok Aragie.
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