World Bank Boosts Support for Sustainable Natural Resource Management and Resilient Landscapes in Ethiopia

December 10, 2013

ADDIS ABABA, December 10, 2013 – The World Bank and the Government of Ethiopia today signed a US$50 million IDA credit, a US$40 million grant from the Government of Norway and a US$13 million from the Global Environment Facility to support the country’s efforts to reduce land degradation and improve land productivity in selected watersheds in six regions through Phase II of the Sustainable Land Management Project (SLMP-2). The Project’s objectives will be achieved through the provision of capital investments, technical assistance and capacity building for smallholder farmers in the watersheds and government institutions at national and sub-national levels.

Ethiopia's diverse production landscapes and natural resources provide a range of services to rural poor people, including fresh water, crops, timber and firewood. Unfortunately, these natural resources and landscapes are increasingly unable to help reduce poverty and support prosperity due to persistent land degradation that damages the hydrologic cycle, reduces the availability of forest products, and reduces agricultural productivity. The cost of land degradation in Ethiopia is estimated to be at least 2-3 percent of agricultural GDP. A more sustainable management of natural resources and landscapes, therefore, is an imperative for the future of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is a leader in the Africa region in tackling the adverse impact of climate change through the adoption of its Climate Resilience and Green Economy Strategy,” said Guang Zhe Chen, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia. “By introducing and expanding sustainable land and water management practice, the Project will contribute to the implementation of the Government strategy by raising the productivity of its land resources and promoting climate smart agriculture.”

The Project will contribute to the Government of Ethiopia’s flagship Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Program and build on the lessons learnt to date including the first phase of the SLM Project (SLMP-1) financed by IDA and GEF and similar initiatives. It is part of the Sahel and West Africa Program (SAWAP) in support of the Great Green Wall Initiative, a second generation TerrAfrica investment of $1.1 billion financed by IDA, GEF, and trust funds. SAWAP supports the implementation of a country-driven vision of  integrated natural resources management for sustainable and climate-resilient development in these twelve countries BeninBurkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan and Togo. A regional project, the BRICKS (Building Resilience through Innovation, Communication and Knowledge Services) connects the 12 country project teams and partners working on the Great Green Wall, and provides opportunities for operational support.Approved by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors in 2008, SLMP-1 significantly contributed to the introduction of best-fit and tested sustainable land and water management practices in selected areas. Under the Project, remarkable progress was achieved in rehabilitating selected degraded areas which were previously uneconomical and unproductive. Implemented in 45 critical watersheds in six regions (Amhara, Tigray, Oromiya, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples, Gambela, and Benshangul Gumuz), the project supported integrated approaches to natural resource management.

The approach was deeply participatory and included (i) identification of degradation factors and impacts; (ii) planning and design of appropriate soil and water conservation technologies; and (iii) and community-led implementation of improved practices and infrastructure such as terraces, re-vegetation, and check dams. As a result, almost 100,000 rural households benefited and over 200,000 hectares of once degraded land were rehabilitated.

SLMP-2 will build on the success of the first project and support implementation of the broader SLM Program of the Government including replication of the successful technologies in 90 additional watersheds, promotion of climate smart agriculture, and supporting income generating and value addition activities in 135 watersheds.

This project builds on the success of the first project which broke the vicious cycle of environmental degradation and fragile livelihoods,” said Edward Felix Dwumfour, Task Team Leader of the Project. “We trust that this follow-up project will further catalyze change to restore the degraded land and continue to transform the lives of many poor people.”

Co-financed by the Government of Norway and the Global Environment Facility, the Project will be implemented in 135 watersheds/woredas (including the 45 watersheds that were partially supported by SLMP-1), covering 937 kebeles in the Regional States of Amhara, Tigray, Oromiya, SNNP, Gambela, and Benshangul Gumuz. Direct and indirect beneficiaries of the Project include an estimated 1,850,000 people. 

The project is innovative as it emphasizes a multi-sectoral landscape approach that supports coordinated effort on land use, land management and land administration.  This approach will generate multiple benefits including contributions to productivity improvement, resilience to climate risks, enhancement to natural wealth and diverse livelihood opportunities and water security, and ultimately poverty reduction and prosperity. 

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