Emerging erosion risk in South-West Ethiopia: Farmers’ preparedness and soil conservation strategies

Maria Hänsel1, Dr. Sebastian Arnhold1, Prof. Dr. Thomas Koellner1, Prof. em. Dr. Hans Hurni2
1 Professorship of Ecological Services, University of Bayreuth
2 Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern

B 2 in BayCEER Bridge Builder Prize

13.10.2016, 14:00-14:15, H36, NW III


Soil erosion severely challenges Ethiopian agriculture. It has been intensively addressed in the past decades, with a strong focus on the northern highlands of Ethiopia. This study analyzes strategies to introduce soil conservation measures in one of the newly emerging risk areas in South-West Ethiopia.

Material and Methods

The erosion risk of the study area was computed with the Unit Stream Power based Erosion Deposition Model (USPED). Different scenarios were modeled in order to account for the effects of spatial distribution as well as quality and quantity variations of soil conservation measures. Interviews were held with farmers and agricultural extension workers to evaluate existing knowledge, relevant farming practices, and applied conservation measures in the context of soil erosion.


The modeled preferential selection of cropland on steep slopes for soil conservation measures lead to higher erosion reduction efficiency by a factor 2 and more, compared to randomly distributed measures (decrease of mean erosion per administrative unit). Improved quality of conservation measures can in certain cases be as effective as a higher quantity. Interview results prove sound knowledge about soil erosion and potential conservation measures. Yet, the implementation level of soil conservation is relatively low. For areas with higher risk the stated knowledge level of erosion and its control improved. Conservation efforts on assessed cropland increased with modeled risk, while interventions on a larger scale show no correlation.


Applied conservation measures can be more targeted, for example through the preferential selection of steep slopes. To increase the effectiveness of actions taken by the government, activities of the different sections of the agricultural offices should be further streamlined. Contextualization of introduced conservation measures would have a positive impact on the acceptance of conservation measures and their overall success.

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