Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Focus on Watersheds – Part 1: A Nationwide Movement and a Community Investment

The Community of Durayte in Gersale Watershed begin constructing a fence to expand their watershed restoration efforts

Around the country, farmers are focusing on their local watersheds in an effort to promote sustainable land management.  As the vast majority of Ethiopian farmers depend on rain fed agriculture, their work efforts within their watersheds are crucial towards reducing soil and water loss and the overall productivity and health of their local environment.

In Konso, several areas previously subjected to a combination of overgrazing livestock, erosion, and heavy rains followed by months of hot and dry weather were selected as watersheds needing restoration.  After these areas were chosen, both physical and social boundaries were instated to ensure goats, sheep, and cattle would not enter and destroy the vegetation meant to hold the top soil in place and allow rain water to penetrate deeper into the earth.

During the past month I have been observing the restoration process and working beside my neighbors to construct structures of soil and stone that will reduce the effects of erosion and provide a space where trees and grasses can be grown.  The future products of the trees and grasses within this watershed will be harvested by the community and sold at the market.  The majority of these proceeds will be support schools, hospitals, and other social services. 

The watershed we were working in first received attention 10 years ago.  Each year since then, the surrounding communities have increased their efforts and have expanded the watershed boundaries to include more and more land.  The effectiveness of their work has been steady and profound. 

Below are a few photos taken from this year's first watershed work event within the Gersale Watershed where the branches of many thorny shrubs and trees were cut to create a boundary to prevent grazing livestock form entering.  The next step in the restoration process is to construct stone bands, soil bands, terraces, and micro-basins - more on that to come.

Gathering thorny branches from nearby trees and shrubs to create a fence

Simple but effective brush fence to keep grazing animals out

The current southern boarder of the Gersale Watershed Project 

The effects that watershed restoration can have in just 3 years.  
These photos were taken in an earlier project site within the Gersale Watershed

No comments:

Post a Comment