Drylands Development Programme (DryDev): Building resilient communities in dryland areas of Ethiopia through integrated landscape restoration

World Vision
Published: 16 July 2021
Last edited: 29 July 2021
remove_red_eye 191 Views

Summary

DryDev seeks to address the growing threat of dryland degradation due to climate change and unsustainable natural resource use. 

 

DryDev's approach relies on three pillars:

  1. Actions that conserve and protect natural assets, such as through water-harvesting, gully reclamation, enrichment planting, and scale-up of farmer managed natural regeneration (FMNR) to restore vegetation and address behaviour change.
  2. Actions that boost on-farm productivity through relevant training to enhance capacities, such as climate-smart agriculture and small-scale irrigation, and to mobilize community groups and organizations, building skills in governance and problem-solving.
  3. Actions that link smallholders with profitable value chains, markets, and financial services to improve income.

Gender inclusion through women's participation and empowerment is crucial to facilitating DryDev's landscape restoration and transformational change.

Classifications

Region
East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Subnational
Ecosystem
Agro-ecosystem
Agroforestry
Cropland
Orchard
Rangeland / Pasture
Theme
Adaptation
Agriculture
Disaster risk reduction
Ecosystem services
Erosion prevention
Fire management
Food security
Gender mainstreaming
Genetic diversity
Land management
Local actors
Protected area management planning
Restoration
Sustainable livelihoods
Watershed management
Challenges
Drought
Erratic rainfall
Floods
Increasing temperatures
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Erosion
Ecosystem loss
Invasive species
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Infrastructure development
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of technical capacity
Poor governance and participation
Lack of food security
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with associations
Indirect through financial institutions

Location

Tigray, Ethiopia | 29 sub-watersheds across 6 districts (Boset, Jarso & Gursum districts in Oromia Region; Tsaeda Emba, Kilte Awulalo & Samre districts in Tigray Region)
Oromia, Ethiopia

Challenges

Major challenges that this solution addresses include:

  1. Environmental: The DryDev approach built environmental resilience through water buffering. Water-harvesting, enrichment planting and FMNR caused rainwater to infiltrate rather than flood. Springs recovered and watertables rose, supporting resilience in the face of recurring droughts. Actions also protected sloping lands from erosion.
  2. Social: By providing relevant training, DryDev built technical and organizational capacities, assisting communities to better link and engage with government, private sector, markets and financial services. Multi-stakeholder platforms were formed to resolve bottlenecks in the value chain.
  3. Economic: With value chain development and market linkage taking place sequentially with natural resource actions, communities experienced a doubling in income. Household hunger and food insecurity reduced substantially. Households graduated from food aid while youth were motivated to not migrate away. 

Beneficiaries

DryDev's approaches worked with over 40,000 smallholders, all of which were agro-pastoralist subsistence farmers living in 29 sub-watersheds in rural dryland parts of Ethiopia. 

How do the building blocks interact?

The three DryDev pillars, being natural resource stabilization (FMNR), capacity building, and linkage to markets / financial services, are integrated actions that reinforce and mutually support each other. In addition, they are sequential: for example, market linkage may be difficult until sufficient production is being generated that market linkage would then make sense. However, agricultural production may not be improved until water buffering actions are taking effect.

 

Landless youth demonstrate how these pillars interact. Those without land are often forced to migrate out, including to international destinations. A few return in shame. Landscape restoration restores denuded or unproductive land, providing new areas for landless youth to engage. By upskilling, they are better able to grow products for market, securing improved prices and income.

Impacts

Landscape restoration contributed to significant transformation: dietary diversity increased three-fold (1.89 to 5.07); hungry months pa halved (3.4 to 1.6); >90% of households reported no household hunger; average household income doubled (USD 716 to USD 1,286 pa); average household expenditure doubled (USD 470 to USD 1,080 pa); and 8-70% of food-aid-dependent households per sub-watershed graduated from food aid.

 

Success depended on:

  1. Sequencing and integrating of approaches. Recharged water tables, along with investment in irrigation infrastructure, supported reliability, quality, and quantity of production. Building capacity of farmers to learn, to adapt, to communicate with each other along the way, and with government and markets, increased self-confidence and willingness to try new things.
  2. FMNR proved a game-changer. Tree-planting doesn't pay off in dryland areas. FMNR has a very high success rate, is low-cost, rapid and scalable. The practice can be readily adopted and spread. FMNR involves mindset and behavior change, reducing the drivers of deforestation (such as burning or overgrazing) and adopting bylaws to prevent this behaviour into the future. 
  3. Communities must benefit from land restoration. Enclosures prevent use of natural resources and alienate communities. DryDev put restoration areas under control of communities and ensured they benefited.

Story

World Vision

Maego sub-watershed in Kilte Awalalo district, Tigray Region, Ethiopia presents a perfect example of DryDev’s landscape transformation. After DryDev’s actions, smallholders indicated that they are now receiving both environmental, social and economic benefits.

 

A 10 km long, 35 m wide and 7 m deep gully, created by years of flooding and soil erosion, had divided the village into two parts. Mr Hagos, priest at the local church, recalls “We were unable to exchange goods or even attend funerals and other social events; one had to walk a long distance of 5-6 km to reach the other side of the gully. Two people lost their lives, drowning while attempting to cross during floods.” Children had to walk a long distance to school and women walked three hours daily to fetch water. Villagers from the two sides were unable to support each other in a responsive way when needed. Being very poor, the community thought that gully healing was beyond their powers.

 

However, with the arrival of the DryDev, their hope grew. During the community action planning process, gully healing was identified as a top priority. However, this was not a simple task and a suite of activities needed to be undertaken to sustainably rehabilitate this area. Regardless, the villagers joined hands with DryDev since the situation affected both economic and social aspects of life.

 

Within three years, the whole catchment was completely transformed. Gabions and mass planting of perennial grasses and trees stabilized the gully; vegetative cover from application of farmer managed natural regeneration (FMNR) and structures like check dams and trenches improved water infiltration. As a result, the gully has been rehabilitated and the depth now is just 1.5 m. People can cross and meet daily. Women do not have to walk for hours to fetch water: the water table has risen and water is available year-round. Children walk less to school and there is a much higher interaction among people on both sides of the gully. They sell and buy vegetables and fruits from each other. The priest smilingly said: ‘We can now even borrow fire from those living on the other side’.

Contributed by

Rob Kelly World Vision Australia

Other contributors

World Vision Ethiopia