Logo Tropentag

Tropentag, September 20 - 22, 2017 in Bonn

"Future Agriculture: Social-ecological transitions and bio-cultural shifts"

Enhancing Resilience of Communities in Pastoral and Agro-Pastoral Systems by Using Water-Spreading Weirs as a Rainwater Management Strategy (Example Ethiopia)

Christina Ketter1, Tilahun Amede2

1Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Germany
2International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Natural Resource System Agronomy, Ethiopia


Spate irrigation can be abrupt and difficult to regulate. GIZ is looking for a sustainable strategy to rehabilitate degraded, drought-prone landscapes and to maximise the benefits of spate irrigation while reducing its potentially negative consequences on downstream dwellers. Water-spreading weirs (WSWs) were introduced as holistic watershed management approach. Constructed in valley bottoms at the foot of the slopes of mountainous landscapes, WSWs are designed to suit the location – specific requirements of geographical conditions at each site to capture, store and convert run-off water from both erratic rainfall and heavy floods from the highlands. WSWs reduce flow velocity, increase sedimentation of the fertile soil and boost infiltration of water up- and downstream, – how to enhance crop and fodder production on the rehabilitated sites is one of the challenges of the project.

The International Crop Research Institute for Semiarid Tropics (ICRISAT) and its partners have tested some newly developed crop and fodder production options, employing management strategies to stabilise their production and their adaptation to climate variability. Together with farmers, the project assessed, mapped and digitalized soil water-holding capacity (SWHC). This information was then linked to optimal crop and fodder options according to the fertility status of each plot. By assigning targeted crop types to the different plots it was possible to produce about 190 tons of fodder. Grain yield increments of at least 130% and 200% were obtained for the cereals and grain legumes respectively. These positive increases are expected to be even higher in the longer term. Water-spreading weirs were also found to be effective at filling up gullies with sediment which enabled the surrounding area to recover its function as pasture or crop land. At the time of writing, GIZ, ICRISAT and their partners are scaling up innovations to neighbouring districts using participatory approaches, as well as working with the Federal Government of Ethiopia to institutionalise proven approaches.

Besides benefiting the agro-pastoral and pastoral communities, both GIZ and ICRISAT have benefited from the strong partnership. By investing in WSWs and creating linkages with institutions in Afar, GIZ has opened-up an opportunity for ICRISAT to test its drought resistant crops and management practices at farm and landscapes scales. On the other hand, ICRISAT has assisted GIZ to convert investment in physical structures to productive use, validating the concept, benefiting rural communities, enhancing the capacities of local institutions and creating an avenue for wider impact.

Keywords: Cooperation, Ethiopia, fodder production, spate irrigation

Contact Address: Christina Ketter, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 36, 53113 Bonn, Germany, e-mail: christina.ketter@giz.de

Valid HTML 3.2!