Effects of Water-Spreading Weirs on Households’ Food Security and the Environment: The Case of Chifra Woreda, Afar Region

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Addis Ababa University


Water stress is the most dominant challenge in drylands which lowers crop production and yield, and increases their susceptibility to land degradation and climate change. Due to this, effective techniques of water harvesting, and water development and conservation techniques are much needed. This study assessed the effects of water-spreading weirs, a water harvesting technique introduced in Chifra Woreda in 2015. Household survey and focus group discussions were used to collect data from 188 beneficiary and nonbeneficiary households. The weirs increased water availability, and maize yield 3 times higher than sampled non-beneficiaries, almost double than that of the regional average, 1.5 times than the national average. Weirs also increased livestock ownership and reduced number of livestock deaths among beneficiaries as a result of increased water and feed availability. Weirs also rehabilitated previously severely eroded land which had 4-5 meters deep gullies. Their contribution toward food security was assessed using a HFIAS, a food insecurity indicator. It was found that the average beneficiary had a score of 2.58, while the average non-beneficiary had a score of 15.37 making beneficiaries much less food insecure. Therefore, water-spreading weirs have significantly improved food security and contributed to environmental rehabilitation in Chifra Woreda. Scaling up the project further along the flooding plain and in other woredas affected by flashfloods is recommended. Trainings on how to best maintain the weirs should also be given to the local community to ensure their sustainability in the woreda.



Drylands, water stress, water-spreading weirs, environmental rehabilitation, food security