The Majang zone of Gambella Peoples’ National Regional State endowed with natural resources. Most of its landscape covered with natural forests with diverse species of plants. It also endowed with water resources, having several perennial rivers and over 2000 mm annual rainfall. Majang is also rich in biodiversity at all levels of biological diversity: ecosystem, species and genetics. It has at least four (4) different ecosystems or habitat types. Over 550 higher plants, 33 mammals, 130 birds, and 20 amphibian species recorded in the area. It is also the center of origin and diversity for many crop genetic resources.
Its richness in natural resources makes the area attractive for agricultural development. Hence, there is a growing demand for agricultural land expansion by smallholder farmers as well as large-scale agricultural investment. Deforestation for agriculture, coupled with current trend of climate change, considered as threats to biodiversity and the traditional livelihoods of the local community.
The Majang zone administration and the Gambella regional state joined hands with MELCA Ethiopian in 2012 to explore and adopt sustainable development options. After conducting baseline studies and evaluation of different development approaches, it adopted the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve approach.
This project; Growth for Future (G4F) Program II: Natural Resource Management for Resilience and Economic development for rural Ethiopia, Majang Project funded by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) came on board to be implemented in the zone as well as adjacent zone to Majang Forest Biosphere Reserve by consortium members of Farm Africa, TechnoServe and MELCA-Ethiopia. One can understand from the name of the project that the project focuses on conservation of forest by participating communities; establishing PFM on one side and improving the livelihood of rural communities on the other side.
The program’s methodology for the strengthening of PFM in the BSR is based on the principle that “conservation stays if it pays”. That means poverty, market failure and weak institutions are major contributors of unsustainable use and management of natural resources, and conservation can be successful if it contributes to sustainable livelihoods development. Achieving this requires both local institutions building and realization of maximum benefit from conservation through enterprise development, facilitating aggregation, improving production, market linkage and improving the capacity of farmers, local institutions and that of government that supports them in the delivery of forest management. Furthermore, G4F II will build on success of the these core community-level interventions to enhance the function of the Majang forest landscape as a site of significant scientific relevance and a site of NRM and enterprise development learning more broadly.
The Majang G4F II Natural Resource Management for Resilience and Economic Development Program is conservation-based sustainable rural development in Majang forest ecosystem and surrounding landscape, an area of high ecological and socio-economic importance facing a severe threat of deforestation and degradation where conservation efforts are highly relevant to Ethiopia’s CRGE goal to contribute to reducing emission from the forest sector. Implementation of the program components will apply a shared methodology that demonstrates integrated and multi-stakeholder landscape management; testing the implementation of a standard set of crosscutting technical approaches, and synthesizing best practice, learning, and policy dialogue.
South Wello zone is one of the ten administrative zones of Amhara National regional state. The zone is divided in to 20 Rural Woredas, 3 city administrations, 50 urban kebeles, and 498 rural kebeles, Dessie town being one of the three city administrations and the centre of the administrative zone. According to the information obtained from Finance and economic development department (FEDD) of the zone, the total population of the zone as it stands in 2017 is 2,992,426, out of which 1,522,170 are male and 1,470,256 are female.
Wereilu woreda is found about 95 Kms from Dessie, the centre of the zone, and 495 kms from the capital Addis Ababa and at a distance of 295 Kms from Addis Ababa on the road through Mida to Dessie, which is not asphalted. Information obtained from the FEDD of the zone shows that the total population of the woreda as of 2017 is 127, 041. Out of this 63,688 are males and 63553 are females. The woreda is further subdivided in to 20 rural and 3 urban kebeles consisting of 24,782 households, of which 17029 are male headed and 7753 are female headed houslehods. The information from the FEDD also indicates that the total land area of Wereilu woreda is 68240 hectares. Out of this, 32,329 hectares is agricultural land, 1,580 hectares is bush land, 12,520 is barren land and 3,624 hectares is grazing land.
MELCA-Ethiopia began work in the project Rural livelihood enhancement project-Wereillu since 2018. Currently MELCA-Ethiopia undertakes different programs in the project area including promoting agro-ecological practices and alternative income generation activities.
The Bale project office is the eldest branch office for MELCA. It was opened in 2005, just a few months after the establishment of MELCA and the opening of its head office in Addis Ababa.
Bale was chosen to be MELCA’s project area firstly because of its rich biodiversity and indigenous culture as well as its endemic city. The area is not only rich in biodiversity, but is also known for its variety of representative ecosystems starting from grassland through alpine climate to cloud forest.
Although the zone has a long history of an area designated as protected area since the reign of Emperor Hailesillasie, there has been an increasing pressure on the conservation of the area and its biodiversity due to expansion of agriculture, towns and pastoralists.
Hence MELCA was interested in opening its first branch office in Bale with the aim of contributing to the effort by different stakeholders to conserve the biodiversity and culture of the people from being eroded by the factors mentioned as threats.
To that end MELCA is currently undertaking different programs in the zone including Environmental Education (SEGNI), which mainly involves school children, Environmental Advocacy, which focuses on different stakeholders including government organs, soil and water conservation activities, and integration of Population, Health and Environment (PHE). Moreover, Participatory Forest Management (PFM) is also implemented around Bale project area. The first Participatory 3 Dimensional Modeling (P3DM), which is part of MELCA’s participatory mapping program, has also been done in Bale
The direct target group are 1.560 smallholder farmer households (around 12.400 persons) living in the border zones of the Bale Mountains-National park in Adaba District. The selected people are living under the poverty line. Men as well as women will be included in the project. The information and awareness campaigns about health and reproductive health are targeting all 3.600 households in the 4 communities, especially adolescence girls and boys.
The main problems of the target group are identified as follows: limited income opportunities, missing land titles for community members, self-sufficiency in food is not guaranteed for the whole year, malnutrition, depletion of the natural resources (wood and grazing land), limited access to health and education services, less knowledge about reproductive health and family planning. The significant growth of population leads to a raise of livestock and an overuse of the grazes and shortages in animal feed.
The aim of the project is the promotion of income-generating measures and a climate-adapted and sustainable land-use for 3.600 families (around 28.600 persons) from 4 communities in Adaba District. This will be achieved through an integrated approach comprised of the following components: establishment of self-help structures, beekeeping and honey production, animal husbandry and breeding, improved stoves, crop production and family planning. Due to the support of the communities, the income-generating measures and appropriate land use, small farmers are enabled to feed their families and to be resilient to the consequences of climate change. Through networking with governmental institutions and other NGOs, the sustainability and longevity of the project will be ensured. The project activities will contribute to an improvement of food security and to an increased climate resilience of small-scale farmer families in Ethiopia.
Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State is also one of the few regions in Ethiopia endowed with rich natural resources. The region is known by the existence of a vast tract of forest and grassland with intact fertile soils that have high potential for agricultural investments. Out of the total land area of the region, forestland covers about 23% followed by shrub land, which is 22.3% (Sisay M. et al. 2018). The biodiversity in the forested areas include various large and small tree species including bamboo, eucalyptus and rubber trees, incense and gum forests as well as the indigenous species such as fig, oak acacia and olive trees. As regards wild animals, the region is also endowed with various large and small wild animals like lion, buffalo, leopard, gazelle, bush buck…etc as well as different kinds of bird species.
In addition, the region is known as the source of big and small rivers like Abay (Blue Nile), Beles, Dabus and Selga, which flow to neighboring regions and countries (Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State 2018). Tthere is more than 900 thousand hectares of arable land that can be cultivated through both rain-fed and irrigation farming. Till date maize, sorghum, sesame, peanut and coffee are some of the dominant crop varieties produced in the region.
MELCA-Ethiopia has been implementing a project entitled ‘Contributing to sustainable natural resources management and Climate change adaptation in selected woredas of Benishangul-Gumuz’ with funding obtained from GIZ-S2RAI. This project has been implemented for 18 months and was completed in February 2019.
This project was implemented with the objective of raising the awareness and building the capacity of government and non-governmental stakeholders including grassroots communities for improved governance of bio-cultural diversity and natural resources thereby ensuring sustainable and responsible agricultural investment in the project area.
The second phase is implementing in three districts namely Asosa, Bambasi and Mao komo districts in Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State in Northwestern part of Ethiopia. The project objective is to contribute to the effective implementation of integrated land use and management approach that leads to sustainable development and human wellbeing in the project area.