Exploring the potential of co-investments in land management in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia

Z. Adimassu Teferi

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Like in any other part of the country, land degradation resulting from water erosion and nutrient depletion     is one of the most challenging problems for farmers in the Central Rift Valley (CRV) of Ethiopia.     Nevertheless, investments in land management to reduce land degradation and increase agricultural     production by smallholder farmers have been limited. In addition, public and private sector organizations     have never collaborated to stimulate (investments in) land improvement. This study focuses on coinvestments,     which are conceived as the collaboration of different stakeholders in land management in the     form of material, labour, finance, technology, knowledge and governance. The overall aim of this study was     to explore the potential of co-investments to foster land management and increase land productivity in the     CRV of Ethiopia.     Chapter 2 presents farmers’ perceptions of crop productivity and their strategies to cope with     perceived changes in the CRV of |Ethiopia. It reveals that farmers perceive a decrease in crop productivity     and food production over the last decades and that they blame a decline in rainfall for this. As a     consequence, farmers apply different strategies to cope with, and adapt to perceived rainfall shortages and     related expected yield losses. However, an analysis of rainfall data in the CRV shows that rainfall     characteristics have not changed over the last three decades. Moreover, according to analysis of official     data, crop productivity per hectare in the CRV even shows a slight increase over the last decade. Therefore,     farmers’ perception of a decline in crop productivity and rainfall can be explained by i) the increased     demand to grow more crops to feed the rapidly growing population, and ii) the lower moisture availability     for plant growth as a consequence of more intensive farming (often on less suitable fields) and land     degradation. The root causes of frequent food shortages are thus not only related to rainfall, but also to soil     fertility decline, soil erosion and lack of rainwater storage in the soil. Current farmers’ strategies are,     therefore, not adequate to cope with the increased food demand. There is an urgent need to invest in     sustainable land management (SLM) practices that enhance local food production.     Chapter 3 focuses on the farmers’ perception of land degradation (especially soil erosion and     nutrient depletion) and their investments in land management. If farmers perceive land degradation as a     problem, the chance that they invest in land management measures will be enhanced. Results reveal that     land degradation in the form of water erosion and fertility depletion is a problem and has increased over     the last decade in the CRV. Farmers are aware of it and consider it as a problem. Nevertheless, farmers’     investments to control water erosion and soil fertility depletion are very limited. Results also show that     farmers’ awareness of both water erosion and soil fertility decline as a problem is not significantly     associated with their investments in land management. Hence, even farmers who perceive land     degradation on their fields and are concerned about its increase over the last decade, do not significantly     invest more in water erosion and soil fertility control measures than farmers who do not perceive these     phenomena.     Chapter 4 is devoted to exploring the determents of farmers’ decisions how much and where to     invest in land management. The study identified five major factors that influence farmers’ decisions how     much to invest in land management. These include households’ resource endowments, farming experience and knowledge, access to information, social capital and availability of family labour. This result implies that     extension strategies aiming at sustainable land management should try to enhance households’ resources     endowments, improve their access to information and stimulate collective action in land management.     Similarly, the study revealed the decisions of farmers’ where to invest in land management is influenced by     the vulnerability, accessibility and fertility condition of their plots. Farmers were more willing to invest in     plots that are vulnerable to water erosion, have better soil fertility and are larger. However, the influence     of all these factors on farmers’ investments in land management was highly variable across the different     study sites within the CRV. Hence, the diversity in social, economic, cultural and biophysical conditions     must be taken into account by rural extension programmes. This calls for site-specific land management     strategies that can be planned and implemented at micro-level with active participation of farmers.     Chapter 5 deals with co-investments in land management. Lack of collaboration is a growing     concern for the success of SLM in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, not only farmers but also public institutions and     private sectors are hesitant to collaborate and invest in SLM. This study identified several major bottlenecks     and requirements for co-investments by public institutions and private sectors. Nevertheless, the results     varied across the administrative levels. As a result, macro level institutions did not acknowledge most of the     bottlenecks and requirements reported by meso and micro level institutions. Therefore, a micro-mesomacro     consensus is required to improve co-investments. Furthermore, most bottlenecks and requirements     for public institutions were related to governance issues. This suggests the need to establish good     governance at all levels in Ethiopia in order to improve co-investments in SLM. In addition to public     institutions, private sectors identified major bottlenecks and requirements which are mostly related to     economic issues. However, given the current socio-economic and political situation in Ethiopia, it is a long     way to fulfilling the requirements proposed by public institutions and private sectors. This indicates that     requirements should be fulfilled gradually and systematically for successful co-investments in SLM.     Chapter 6 explores the potential of co-investments in land management for bringing change at the     grassroot level in Ethiopia. First, this study explores the most important co-investment activities that trigger     farmers to invest in land management based on a co-investment initiative in the Galessa watershed.     Second, it assesses the impact of these co-investment activities on farmers’ investments in land     management by comparing experimental (participant) and control (non-participant) groups of farmers     using survey data. The case study revealed that the most important co-investment activities that triggered     farmers to invest in land management include co-investments in awareness creation, water provision,     technology and governance. Of these activities, co-investing in water provision is the most successful     activity, because it directly solves one of the basic needs of farmers in the watershed. Results reveal that     the experimental group of farmers invested more in land management practices, such as soil bunds,     compost and tree planting, than the control group of farmers. The article concludes that multiple level coinvestment     activities are crucial to trigger farmers to invest in land management in Ethiopia.     Chapter 7 is a synthesis of previous chapters. It briefly summarizes answers to the research     questions, describes the added value of the thesis in terms of knowledge generation and provides     suggestions for further research and policy making. The synthesis indicates that although farmers are well     aware of the land degradation problem, their investments in land management are not sufficient to reverse     the situation. It also reveals that farmers’ investments are affected by highly diverse socio-economic and     biophysical constraints. Moreover, public and private sectors are constrained by financial and governance     factors and require several preconditions before actually investing in land management. Despite these     constraints at micro, meso and macro institutional levels, this thesis shows that there is potential for coinvestments     in SLM in Ethiopia. Exploiting this potential principally requires commitment of all stakeholders     to co-invest in land management.    


Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Stroosnijder, Leo, Promotor
  • Kessler, Aad, Co-promotor
Award date15 Jan 2012
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789461734518
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • land management
  • land degradation
  • sustainability
  • farmers
  • crop production
  • perception
  • soil fertility
  • water erosion
  • stakeholders
  • ethiopia

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