Watershed Management Adoption and Socio-Ecological-Livelihood Implications in the Upper Gibe Basin, South West Highland of Ethiopia

No Thumbnail Available



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Addis Ababa University


Watershed degradation is the greatest challenge in the highlands of Ethiopia, promoting interests in the intervention of watershed based management approach to avert land degradation and to enhance people’s livelihoods. Given this strategy, a wide range of watershed management programs have been implemented in different parts of Ethiopia for several years to solve the problems. However, the effects of watershed management program have not been well examined and documented. To this end, the objective of this study was to explore the state of watershed management program and people’s psycho-social conditions, participation and adoption of the watershed management practices and to investigate the effects of the management program on socio-ecological and livelihood in Rebu watershed of the upper Gibe basin, southwest Ethiopia. To address these, a total of 304 sample households (145 program participants and 159 nonparticipant households) were randomly selected from three program participant and three counterfactual sub- watersheds across various topographic settings. Household survey, key informant interviews, focus group discussions and personal transect observations were employed to collect data. A wide range of data analysis tools employed such as descriptive statistics, logistic regression, multivariate and ordered probit model and propensity score matching method. Results of state- of the -art indicated that although, watershed development program has become the primary objective of the policy and development plans of the country and there are strong efforts in the implementation, the emphasis still stresses on the attainment of economic growth rather than environmental concern. Top-down approach of planning the watershed development is still dominating. Empirical results of study indicated that local communities were well aware of the problems of watershed degradation and outcome of mitigation measures despite its variation in different topographic settings and for watershed program participants. Exposed stone, gullies and rills and tree root exposure were major indicators of soil erosion, while crop yield decline and soil cultivability decline were for diminishing soil quality. Cultivation of steeper slopes, deforestation and poor land management practices were perceived by farmers as the major causes of watershed degradation. The ecological benefits were perceived higher in the upper topographic areas, while the socio economic benefits were in the middle and lower areas. The overall community participation index value of 43.4 % showed moderate levels of participation. Soil bund, grass strip cultivation with soil bund and compost were the major watershed management practices adopted. Estimates of the propensity score matching indicated that the existence of a positive additional significant livelihood assets value of 24.8 % for program participants compared to non-participants suggesting the need of up scaling the program in to the areas not covered. There is also a positive association between important components of watershed management-perception, participation, adoption and livelihoods. Various physical, socio economic and institutional factors affects the perception, community participation, adoption of watershed management. Hence, policy makers and planners need to recognize heterogeneity in households’ socio economic and topographic specific characteristics in watershed management. It also suggested more participatory and integrated approach need to be encouraged to upscale and sustaining of watershed management.



watershed management program; perception; participation; adoption; livelihood impacts; Rebu watershed, upper Gibe basin, southwest Ethiopia