Sustainable land management

Project description

Title: Sustainable Land Management (SLM)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Ethiopia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MoANR), Ethiopia
Overall term: 2015 to 2017

Ethiopia.  © GIZ


A significant proportion of the rural population in the six programme regions Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region – which together account for more than 70 per cent of Ethiopia's total population – faces the problem of progressive land degradation.

More than 30,000 hectares of soil are lost to erosion every year. Arable and grazing land is becoming unproductive or is being destroyed by erosion channels. This is due in particular to the pressure on the fragile natural resources, which is caused by, among other factors, high population growth and inappropriate farming methods. The methods are associated with the extensive felling of trees, decreasing soil fertility, overgrazing of grass pastures and erosion. This results in declining yields and a reduction in agricultural productivity. The situation is being exacerbated by the impacts of climate change.


In the rural regions of Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region, smallholders, watershed user associations and user groups increasingly apply sustainable land management measures in combination with income-generating activities.


On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is supporting the activities by the Ethiopian Government to promote sustainable land management around the country. The project provides advice and training to improve the knowledge and skills of its partners, so that they in turn can teach sustainable land management methods more effectively in the districts and promote their wider use by the farmers themselves.

The core tasks include the provision of advice on improving the legal framework for sustainable land management, and support for Ethiopia's agricultural extension service and the decentralised agricultural bureaus. The latter implement the state-run programme at the various levels, from the regions and districts, down to the community level. The programme focuses on technical training for experts and on in-service training to build capacities for the implementation processes within the government institutions. Advisory services cover technical aspects such as soil and water conservation and agricultural production methods. The promotion of income-generating measures plays a key role.

Ethiopia. Farmers discuss about the catchment area. © GIZ

GIZ experts are advising the ministry at different levels (federal, regional, district) on implementing sustainable land management measures and on participatory rural development approaches. Moreover, the government experts trained by the advisors team up with the communities to develop plans for sustainable forest management within or adjacent to water catchment areas.

The consulting firm IAK Agrar Consulting GmbH supports the project in providing advisary services.


The following results had been achieved by December 2015 in the three Ethiopian highland areas Amhara, Oromia, Tigray.

  • The Ethiopian partners are able to plan and implement their projects more effectively. More than 670 management plans for water catchment areas drawn up in conjunction with the communities have been developed so far and are currently being implemented.
  • Sustainable land management practices are being applied by the rural population on approximately 390,000 hectares of formerly degraded land. Land degradation is being reduced by measures such as terracing, crop rotation systems, improvement of pasture land and establishment of permanent green cover; leading to a yield increase by 35 to 80 per cent .The land can thus be better used by local people to secure their livelihoods for the long term.
  • The irrigation area used by smallholders has increased by around 2,000 hectares since 2008. The users thus produce larger harvests and are able to improve their household incomes by selling their produce at the local markets.
  • The measures to promote sustainable land management have so far benefited around 190,000 households, which corresponds to approximately one million people. The government advisors and experts in the districts and communities have been able to transfer the approach to other areas too.
  • The knowledge and skills of the stakeholders in the communities have improved significantly, as has local ownership by the target groups. More than 500 local smallholder groups and associations are jointly managing land using sustainable methods. They are receiving advice and institutional support from trained experts from the districts and communities.