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Community / Land projects / Reducing land degradation and carbon loss from Ethiopia's soils to strengthen livelihoods and resilience (RALe

Reducing land degradation and carbon loss from Ethiopia's soils to strengthen livelihoods and resilience (RALe


11/19 - 10/22


This project is part of


Land degradation is a major problem in Ethiopia. Recent estimates put the size of degraded land in Ethiopia at more than one-quarter of the entire country, which affects nearly a third of the population. Land degradation takes many forms and has many different effects, with the most adverse impacts on poor people, who depend heavily on natural resources. Forests, soils, water, biodiversity, and economic and social services derived from the ecosystems are all affected. Climate change and extreme weather events, such as the recent El Niño effect, significantly increase the risk of soil erosion, and losses of soil nutrients. The impact of degradation and measures to restore land are inherently unequally distributed across the population in time and space. Restoring degraded common lands through the establishment of "exclosure" areas where traditional community access is restricted is widely used in Ethiopia. These restrictions particularly affect those without access to other sources of firewood and grazing. Such inequalities and local perceptions of justice need to be taken into account if soil restoration is to be sustainable in the long run. This project aims to improve the design of measures to combat land degradation while considering equity and justice, strengthening risk management and benefits for communities, particularly poor and marginal groups, increasing the capacity of local people to adapt and improve their lives. The project draws on an interdisciplinary approach covering anthropology, agricultural and forestry science, economics, environmental modelling, hydrology, sociology, and soil science. In case study areas within the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region in Ethiopia (SNNPR) covering different agricultural and climatic zones, the project will design interventions with the Ethiopian Bureau of Agriculture to - Train and provide access to exclosures to selected eligible landless youth and women to enable them to undertake new productive activities in 1) beekeeping or 2) livestock management. - Demonstrate and train local farmers in simple measures to address gully formation The research aims to find out the impact of the new interventions on the participants, how the interventions were communicated and promoted within the communities, how they were experienced by different groups, and their impact on preferences and attitudes to natural resource management within the community. The project will collect soil, hydrology and socio-economic data. This will be used with environmental and economic modelling to measure the impacts of the interventions on the direct participants, and preferences for natural resource management in the wider community, and the potential long-term effects on land degradation, thus helping to improve the design local natural resource management. With local and regional practitioners, development agents and representatives of local communities, the project will draw together all the results of the research to develop recommendations for improving frameworks to planning land degradation measures aligned to communities' aspirations, values and notions of justice.


The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) supports cutting-edge research to address challenges faced by developing countries. The fund addresses the UN sustainable development goals. It aims to maximise the impact of research and innovation to improve lives and opportunity in the developing world.