Where Do Sustainable Land Management Practices Work: A Comparative Study

Policy Brief
1 January 2010

The Ethiopian economy has its foundation in the agricultural sector. This sector continues to be a fundamental instrument for poverty alleviation, food security, and fueling economic growth. However, the sector continues to be undermined by land degradation (LD) in the form of depletion of soil organic matter, soil erosion, and lack of adequate plant-nutrient supply (Pender et al., 2006).

There is evidence that these problems are getting worse in many parts of the country, particularly in the highlands. Furthermore, climate change is anticipated to accelerate LD in Ethiopia. Over the last few decades, as a cumulative effect of LD, increasing population pressure, and low agricultural productivity, Ethiopia has become increasingly dependent on food aid. In most parts of the densely populated highlands, cereal yields average less than one metric ton per hectare (Pender and Gebremedhin, 2007). Such low agricultural productivity, compounded by recurrent problems of famine, contributes to extreme poverty and food insecurity. Over the last three decades, the government of Ethiopia and a consortium of donors have invested substantial resources to develop and promote sustainable land management (SLM) practices as part of efforts to improve environmental conditions, ensure sustainable and increased agricultural production, and reduce poverty. However, due to low rates of adoption, most of the promoted practices have been only partially successful. In some cases, dis-adoption or reduced use of technologies has been reported.

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Publication | 14 June 2010