Baseline Survey for Sustainable development of the Gambella-omo and Rift Valley

 landscapes Project.    

 Client: Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network, Addis Ababa University       

 Purpose of the Baseline Survey: The general purpose of this baseline survey is to conduct an assessment survey and produce benchmark information and an assessment report document for the Gambella and Rift Valley-Omo landscapes in connection with the EKN project to be able to measure changes due to the intervention of this particular project.

Objective of the study: The overall objective of this assignment is to carry out a baseline survey in order to capture the baseline conditions for the output indicators that will help to understand better the current situation prevailing in the Gambella and Rift Valley landscapes, set feasible targets and compare changes in the mid-term and end-term of the project implementation period. The specific objectives of the baseline survey are:
• Assessing the socio-economic status of the project areas;
• Identifying the food security status of the landscapes;
• Assessing the current agricultural investment and development conditions of the landscapes;
• Assessing the capacity and involvement of partners in the selected landscapes and strengthening of the capacity levels of the community and government institutions;
• Identifying and gathering gender related data in line with the project objectives;
• Identifying the livelihood conditions of the landscapes to diversify and enhance the livelihood base in selected landscapes sustainably;
• Identifying the frequency and degree of conflicts that occur due to the desire to control natural resources;
• Reviewing the environmental condition and the ecosystem of the landscapes to maintain or restore the resilience and the function of key ecosystems within the selected landscapes;
• Providing recommendations for developing guidelines for agricultural investment and development in the selected landscapes through holistic, participatory and integrated land use planning and improving environmental governance in selected landscapes.


Conceptual Framework: In studying the Gambella-Rift Valley landscapes, BDS- CDR followed a holistic approach in that it takes into account the interaction between human and natural capital and the ecosystem that the interaction produces. We find this approach to be consistent with the “landscape approach”. The landscape approach takes both geographical and socio- economic approaches in managing the land, water and forest resources that form the foundation for meeting food security goals, thus maximizing productivity, improving livelihoods and reducing negative environmental impacts. 

The study methodology BDS-CDR has chosen to use involved determining the sample size and sampling techniques and deciding on data sources and data collection techniques.

Sample size : The study, scheduled to take two months, was conducted in 15 woredas--10 intervention and 5 control  woredas. From each woreda, 2 kebeles were selected to represent the woreda dynamics. This came to 30 woredas--20 targeted and 10 controlled. From each kebele, 20 households (female-. male- and youth-headed) were selected systematically. This gave a total sample size of 600 (400 beneficiaries and 200 controlled) households. The final sample size and geographic distribution was determined in consultation with the client.


Data source and collection techniques : Quantitative and qualitative data was collected from sampled project beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries, as well as from other relevant stakeholders. The secondary data was collected from existing and relevant documents while the primary data was collected from household survey, key informant interviews , focus group discussions (using a structured questionnaire), direct observation and seasonal calendars indicating the multiplicity of seasonal activities and conditions reflected in the targeted areas. To collect the data, field staffs were hired and given a thorough training.

In this baseline survey, primary data was collected from different sources by using household survey, key informant interview and personal observation as well as structured questionnaire. Secondary data was also collected from reports, publications and other related materials to address the objectives of the study. Data obtained from key informant interviews on environmental protection, regulations and awareness suggested that while there are a number of developments in these areas, there is a need to do more in terms of creating awareness, building institutional capacity and strengthening the educational

systems in the landscapes.
The collected household survey data shows that land and crop production, as well as livestock, happen to be the most important sources of livelihood for the households. It was also found that households are involved in off-farm activities to supplement their income. Food deficiency/ insecurity is also reported as an important issue to be addressed.

The availability of ecosystems managed for their services varies across and within regions. The study shows that ecosystem services are not well understood by the key informants or responsible institutions. However, some respondents could recognize the benefits provided by the ecosystems. Despite the huge potentials of the ecosystems for enhancing the livelihood of the local community, no or limited access was allowed to the local community to generate income. Besides, no carbon based projects or PES schemes have been implemented so far.

This study shows that there are still more forests/ecosystems that could enter the network of protected areas. The area coverage of the already identified ecosystems, as well as protected areas, is not even clearly stated in most woredas. The ecosystems have no clear boundary. None of the ecosystems is legally gazetted, has any management plans or management budget allocated to it by the local or central government authorities. Most of the protected areas have been encroached upon for farmlands. Trees are illegally cut for firewood and construction. Some ecosystems have already been more or less cleared of woody vegetation to produce charcoal. The findings suggest that the areal coverage of protected areas has shrunk over the last decades and this shrinkage continues till now at GRS and Omo landscape. All of these challenges pose threats to the survival of some of the biodiversity values. Exceptionally, the area coverage of protected areas increased at CRV due to organized massively mobilized activity.

The effectiveness of management of responsible institutions in all of the study areas is weak. Almost all of the protected areas are very weakly managed. There are very significant levels of expansion of farmlands, illegal tree cutting, free grazing, charcoal burning and pole harvesting in most areas. Financial constraints and lack of skilled manpower are the most mentioned factors for the weak management of protected areas.

The frequency and severity of natural resource use conflicts varies from one landscape to another.  Communities with open natural resource practices are more prone to
conflict compared to those with relatively restricted and controlled natural resource use regimes. It appears that the potential for conflict is likely to increase from CRV to Omo and Gambella landscapes. With CRV, most of the natural resources (including land) are managed and used at the level of households while in the Gambella-Omo landscapes, natural resource use is open to competition among different ethnic groups. Here, local officials might not be willing to enforce usufruct rights to land since loyalty to one’s clan or ethnicity is more important than implementing government policy. As already stated, because of ethnic and political divisions, the Anywaa and Nuer in the Gambella landscape have been engaged in repeated and bloody conflicts leading to deaths of people and destruction of property.  The two groups have also been fighting to control the local administration (Gambella Zuria woreda) and regional government.   

Natural resource use conflict also occurs in the Gambella- Omo and CRV landscapes because of the government policy that gives priority to: (1) the establishment of protected areas and national parks, and (2) the allocation of land to investors. The participation of communities in demarcating state forests and parks has been minimal. This was at least the case during the demarcation of the Shala- Abiyata national park in the Omo landscape which was characterized by a tension between the community and officials.

Communities are against any government policy that takes away land from them as it affects them directly in terms of reduced grazing land and restricted/no access to natural resources such as forests. This has a direct negative impact on people’s livelihoods. Similarly, natural resource-based investments that do not bring direct economic benefits for communities (in terms of employment, income and improved food security) are likely to be met with resistance and confrontation sometimes leading to conflict.

Natural resource use conflict is not limited to between individuals or between communities. It also occurs between people and wild animals. Human activity in the form of intensive grazing, farming and clearing of forests is encroaching on wild animals’ habitat and on their food chain. As people are taking over their territories, wild animals are gradually but surely losing their food source and this is forcing them to attack crops and domestic animals as source of food. However, this form of conflict is not as common and as serious as people-to-people conflict. Therefore, the most pressing issue of conflict in the Gambella-Omo and CRV landscapes is conflict between people, between communities or between ethnic groups.


Conclusions and Recommendation
The existence of experiences in enclosure or protected area management is an opportunity for scaling up of exclosure and protected area management. Within the context of abandoning benefits after enclosures, especially in the Gambella and Omo regions, the practice of exclosure and protected area management  must consider to address the issues of livestock fodder, since it has been found that difficulties in the adoption of the technologies emerges from the conflict for fodder or biomass.

The policy and strategies that enhance introduction or practicing of exclosure or protected area management are not available or known and/or not supportive in the regions considered. It is not also known if these strategies are in line with the other regional and global strategies such as the millennium development goals. The missing links such as the lack of extension packages for the implementation of exclosure and protected area management need to be addressed.

There exist less or no actors from the government
institutions, private sector, research and training as well as non-governmental organizations that are or have been engaging in the promotion of exclosure and protected area management in the Gambella region. If these exist, they are not known by the community.
 The study concludes that these institutions should be actively involved or participative in the management scheme because they could be resourceful to the successful introduction, implementation and sustaining of the exclosure and protected area management and technologies.

For the successful attainment of outcomes of exclosure and protected area management practices, the exclosure and protected area management technologies must be actively institutionalized in policy and institutional frameworks. Farmers must be involved in the demonstration activities; pertinent support services that enhance implementation should be available and provided; knowledge management and extension service for successful implementation of the technologies should be made available; and there should be an effective coordination and implementation of the practices and technologies. The desired outcomes could be achieved through: the implementation of activities such as training, workshops and meetings; establishment of demonstration fields; use of technical expertise available in the country and regions; production and distribution of knowledge and information products; experience exchange visits and study tours; farmer field days and monitoring and evaluation.

Identification and demarcation of forest areas with great potential for biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management must be given due attention. Gazzeting and inventory of resources in identified protected areas is also equally important. Capacity building, thereby improving the effectiveness of management, is an important task and the baseline information will allow progress to be measured over time. Therefore, increasing awareness of experts and local communities, experience sharing and development of skills of natural resource managers are key factors for an acceptable management of resources. Besides, provision of adequate finance for the management of landscapes is important. Other options for improving the sustainable financing of the reserve network include forest carbon projects, small scale ecotourism projects, beekeeping and other income generating activities linked to the forest.

Regarding the management of conflicts among groups/ communities/ethnic groups, there is a need for establishing establishing peace monitoring and peace-keeping committees comprising community representatives (e.g. respected elders), religious leaders, and representatives of women and youth groups of the conflicting parties together with the government representatives in each kebele.

Mechanisms should be designed for the local community to share the benefits of establishing protected areas/national parks – e.g. devising a system where communities and government can share income obtained from tourism, or allowing people to continue to obtain ecological services such as producing forest honey, use of plants for medicine, etc. An example is the provision of health and education facilities for the communities in and around Sher flower farm located near Lake Ziway.

Agricultural investment has become a divisive force in the Gambella-Omo and CRV landscapes. However, local communities should not lose their benefits in the name of investment. Investment should bring about tangible benefits for the local community in terms of improved access to roads, health services, education, water supply, training and employment creations for young people, etc. Therefore, agricultural investment permits should be tied to projects that can deliver tangible benefits for the local community.
Finally, the mechanisms for conflict resolution should not be imposed by any outside body such as local, regional or federal officials. The concerned communities should participate (through their representatives such as women and youth groups) in discussions and dialogues, and a sustained effort should be exerted to engage the different conflict resolution groups in a sustainable manner. Because conflict causes enormous human and material costs for the communities involved and may have wider regional peace and security implications, no effort should be spared to maintain peace stability in the targeted regions as well as in the country as a whole.

It is obvious that irrigation is becoming the best alternative both in the highlands and lowland areas of the country and it is taken as an alternative to boosting production and minimizing the risk of drought related crises. Consequently, the number of large scale irrigation projects and small holder

farmers is growing in the catchment. However, the availability of surface water resource is limited and may affect the environmental flow to the extent that it will not be  irreversible.Therefore, water shade management should be given due attention at all levels and its implementation should be realized at the grassroots level. Moreover, people in the watershed areas need to experience different water harvesting techniques rather than competing for water from Feeder Rivers. Investors who are capable to do so should be encouraged to use modern technologies such as drip irrigation and sprinkler and they must be required to pay for the water they are using and the waste they are generating.
It can be concluded that natural resources degradation is real in the CRV and anthropogenic driven activities elsewhere in the catchment are influencing the aquatic ecosystem. However, there is a lack of time series data on deforestation, level of siltation, turbidity, discharge, evaporation, transpiration and the like.

Significant changes are becoming prominent in the lower reaches of this catchment (on the terminal of Lake Abijata). Lake Abijata, which had plenty of fish and a known bird sanctuary 20 years back, has no fish today and the greater than 60% of the lake has dried up mainly due to increased demand for water upstream and siltation problem. This phenomenon can be justified by the theory of river continuum concept which states that in a catchment, rivers start dying up from their lower reach. Therefore, ecologically friendly types of investment like tourism and fisheries should be given attention.

Availability of water in the ecosystem may not be meaningful by itself. What matters is the quality of that water to support life. Therefore, issues related to water quality problems, like siltation, industrial waste disposal, municipal wastes and other anthropogenic activities need close follow- up to ensure sustainability in this watershed. Alarmingly growing towns need to have their own solid and liquid waste management practices. Buffer zones of lakes, and riverbanks should be delineated.



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