IFAD Project Combats Land Degradation in Ethiopia
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An International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-supported project in Ethiopia is making progress in addressing land degradation.

The 'Community-based Natural Resource Management Project,' located in the watershed of Lake Tana in the northwest of the country focuses on combating land degradation and promoting sustainable land management (SLM) to increase agricultural productivity, household food security, incomes and climate change resilience.

IFAD16 January 2015: An International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-supported project in Ethiopia is making progress in addressing land degradation. The ‘Community-based Natural Resource Management Project,’ located in the watershed of Lake Tana in the northwest of the country focuses on combating land degradation and promoting sustainable land management (SLM) to increase agricultural productivity, household food security, incomes and climate change resilience.

More specifically, it: assists farmers and communities in preserving natural resources and regenerating degraded lands; and aims to manage livestock grazing pastures by establishing ‘no-go areas’ in the most degraded lands, whereby smallholders cut plant material and carry it to the livestock. Through this ‘cut-and-carry’ system, soil erosion caused by over-grazing is reduced and land is able to naturally regenerate. The project includes collaboration with local communities in order to determine which lands are most affected by degradation, which are then fenced off and legally protected against trespassing.

Data, including information on biomass and plant cover, was collected from the enclosed areas and then compared to data from the adjacent open grazing lands. Results confirm that plant biomass increases by natural regeneration when protected, and variation depends on the initial status of the area, whereby degraded area may take several years to regenerate, while grazing land with plant cover intact may quickly grow back biomass. Thus, introducing exclosures and cut-and-carry systems could be very effective in regenerating degraded communal grazing lands.

The project also aims to: improve access to natural resources, such as land and water; introduce improved technologies for agricultural production through SLM; establish and strengthen community-based organizations; promote off-farm employment opportunities to decrease pressure on marginal lands; and increase carbon sequestration. It aims to involve communities in decision-making processes, build on indigenous knowledge and institutions to promote SLM, encourage farmers to invest in land improvement, conserve biodiversity and improve ecosystem integrity over the long-term.

On 14-15 October 2014, the IFAD Ethiopia Country Office hosted a first quarter review workshop in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, where project stakeholders came together to discuss progress and the way forward, and took part in a training on new reporting requirements. The project is part of the Strategic Investment Programme for Sustainable Land Management in sub-Saharan Africa, coordinated by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). [IFAD News Story] [Lessons Learned from Project]

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