Community-based watershed management, conservation, and sustainable livelihoods in Wolyaita, Ethiopia

2014 Finalist

This project aims to rehabilitate 620 ha of degraded land in Offa Woreda, Wolyaita Zone, for 525 extremely poor households (2,825 people). These households are further supported in starting income generating activities such as honey production.

Project Description

Degraded land will be rehabilitated through soil and water conservation activities such as planting trees and grasses and using conservation structures such as dams. Negotiations with the local government will ensure that the beneficial rights of the rehabilitated land are assigned to landless young people, who will be supported to start sustainable businesses with a revolving fund to provide start-up loans. The project also promotes fuel efficient stoves.

Project goal and impact

The major goal of this project is to rehabilitate 620 ha of land and to support and sustainably improve the livelihoods of 565 landless married households (LMHHs).


The improved vegetative cover will lead to a decreased risk of flooding as well as better soil fertility. In the long term, the project stimulates the regeneration of forests by reducing the consumption of firewood. The watershed is furthermore replenished by improving the water absorbing capacity of soils. Finally, the increased availability of water and vegetation cover will attract wildlife, pollinated and sustained by bees, ensuring sustainable and long term improvements to the ecosystem.


At least 565 LMHHs will have a by 20 percent (from the baseline of $184USD/year) improved income by the end of the project. The incomes are raised by sustainable activities that support the management and rehabilitation of soil and water such as bee keeping, cutting and carrying of forage for livestock, aloe-based cosmetics and, in the short term, cash for work building conservation structures. More people will benefit indirectly as the local economy improves and more people can access credit.


LMHHs will be able to participate in the economy and take part in traditional financial institutions and loan making organisations known as idir and iqub. Their social standing will therefore increase. By reducing land degradation, forced displacement and migration will be diminished while enhancing community cohesion. Furthermore, the local capacity will be increased to support similar projects in the future by working with local community organisations.

Participation of the communities

This project will be implemented in cooperation with Wolayta Development Association (WDA), CWE’s partner organisation in SNNPR. WDA is an indigenous, not-for-profit membership organisation. The local communities and local government have been involved in identifying, prioritizing and analysing problems and proposing interventions in this proposal. They will further participate by providing technical and administrative assistance and materials as much as possible.

Long term viability

WDA, together with local kebele structures and the Woreda Agriculture Development Office, will oversee the long term continuity of the project. The project is owned and implemented by the community, which provides the best foundation for the local long term management of the watershed. A revolving fund managed by WDA will provide loans and support to help the extremely poor starting sustainable, natural resource-based income generating activities.

Information about the organization

Concern Worldwide Ethiopia (CWE) is part of Concern Worldwide, an international humanitarian development organisation. CWE has been working in Ethiopia since 1973 and operates relief, rehabilitation and development projects, focusing on assisting the extremely poor. CWE also focuses on improving food security, incomes and nutrition through sustainable agriculture.

Submitted by: 
Concern Worldwide Ethiopia (CWE)
Award year: 

Concern Worldwide Ethiopia
P.O. Box 2434
Addis Ababa

Mr. Matthew Bramall