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2008-02-16 | project

Economic Sector Work on Poverty and Land Degradation in Ethiopia

Poverty and Land Degradation in Ethiopia: How to Reverse the Spiral?

Sustainable land management (SLM) has been a major research issue in the Environmental Economics Policy Forum for Ethiopia (EEPFE). Sponsored by the World Bank, this project was among the major SLM research collaboration among researchers from EEPFE, IFPRI, Wageningen University and Research Center and the World Bank.

Land degradation is a major cause for declining agricultural productivity and continuing food insecurity in Ethiopia. Achieving sustainable pathways out of the downward spiral of land degradation and poverty requires that farmers adopt profitable and sustainable land management practices, or pursue alternative livelihood strategies that are less demanding of the land resource. Despite a great deal of effort to address the problem of land degradation in Ethiopia, there is little success in reversing this downward spiral.

One of the major reasons for this failure has been the promotion of practices and technologies that were not well suited to the conditions facing farmers in their particular location, and hence not profitable or excessively risky. The ineffectiveness of generalized prescriptions has been another challenge. This indicates that more targeted guidance would be very helpful regarding where particular land management approaches are likely to be successful, what are the most binding constraints to adoption of potentially successful approaches, and what strategies can be used to address these constraints, as well as to improve the options for other areas where available technologies are less promising.

The key objectives of this project were to identify effective and realistic pathways out of the downward spiral of land degradation and poverty in Ethiopia. This means to understand and to quantify the main factors leading to land degradation, to comprehend the reasons for farmers adopting or not adopting conservation and productivity enhancing technologies, and to identify the results of such strategies in terms of poverty reduction. The project aimed to adopt a more extensive approach to bio-economic modeling, using simple models and available data to predict broad domains of profitability and risk, without trying to assess every farmer’s individual constraints.

The project was commenced at the first SLM workshop on May 30, 2005 held at the UNECA Conference Center. The concept note was discussed in the project planning and modeling workshops that followed. The research outputs of the project were discussed in the second SLM workshop during May 2-3, 2006.

The project delivered the following papers:

"Cost of Land Degradation in Ethiopia: A Critical Review of Past Studies" By Mahmud Yesuf, Alemu Mekonnen, Menale Kassie, and John Pender

"Determinants and Impacts of Land Management Technologies in the Ethiopian Highlands: A Literature Review"  By Mahmud Yesuf and John Pender

"Tenure Insecurity and Land Productivity" By Daniel Ayalew, Stefan Dercon, and Madhur Gautam

"Stakeholder Analysis for Sustainable Land Management (SLM) in Ethiopia: Assessment of Opportunities, Strategic Constraints, Information Needs, and Knowledge Gaps" By Gete Zeleke, Menale Kassie, John Pender, and Mahmud Yesuf