Transforming Konso towards Green Economy through Integrated Land Management

Academic Paper, 2018

26 Pages


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. A Brief Background about Konso Woreda

3. A Brief Literature Review
3.1. Definition of Key Concepts
3.1.1. Land
3.1.2. Land Degradation
3.2. Major Cause of Land Degradation
3.3. Impact of Land Degradation

4. Conceptual Framework

5. What are the Drivers of Land Degradation in Konso?
5.1. High Population Growth
5.2. High Demand for Land Resources
5.3. Poverty
5.4. Current Generations’ Work Ethics and Attitude
5.5. Motivation to Expand Territories (Informal Institutions)
5.6. Cultural Practices
5.7. Climate Change (Rainfall Variability, Drought)
5.8. Formal Institutions

6. What are the Pressures that Cause Land Degradation in Konso?
6.1. Over Intensive Land Use
6.2. Deforestation and Removal of Natural Vegetation
6.3. Soil Erosion
6.4. Reduction of the Quantity and Quality of Water Resource

7. State of Quality of Land Resource in Konso

8. What are the Impacts of Land Degradation in Konso?
8.1. Impact on Ecosystem Services
8.2. Impact on Livelihood
8.2.1. Impact on physical Asset
8.2.2. Impact on Financial Asset
8.2.3. Impact on Natural Asset
8.2.4. Impact on Human Capital
8.2.5. Impact on Social Capital

9. What Is Being Done and How Effective Is It?
9.1. Soil and Water Conservation
9.2. Livelihood Diversification

10. Where is the Woreda Heading? (Conclusion)

11. What Actions Could Be Taken for a More Sustainable Future? (Recommendations)


List of Tables

Table 1: Trend of Population Growth, Population Density, and Land Holding

Table 2: Occurrence of Drought in Konso

List of Figures

Figure 1: Location of Konso in Ethiopia

Figure 2: The DPSIR Framework for Land Resource Assessment

Figure 3: Annual Rainfall Anomalies…

Figure 4: Scene of Some of the Degraded Areas

Figure 5: Delibena River during Dry and Rainy Season

Figure 5: Segen River during Dry and Rainy Season…


illustration not visible in this excerpt


This article examines the drivers, pressures, and impacts of land degradation on the ecosystem services and livelihood of the Konso people. To deal with the problem of land degradation, the People of Konso have been practicing well organized and innovative adaptation strategies in the form of indigenous soil and water conservation. The people are well known for their indigenous knowledge and skills of land management. Particularly, the antique and beautiful terraces, traditional agro forestry practices, and efficient irrigation methods are the prominent features of the Konso agricultural system. The people have been a model for the global community and their cultural landscape was registered by the UNESCO as one of the world’s heritage sites. The indigenous soil and water conservation practices have enabled the community to manage and live in a callous natural environment. However, these practices are now under the threat due to multiple factors which requires the attention of all stakeholders, principally of the Konso people (that is primarily responsible to maintain its identity of soil and water conservation).

1. Introduction

Land is one of the few ‘precious finite resources’ Brabant (2010:4) upon which all living organisms depend for survival and growth. Particularly, in developing countries where the majority of the population lives in rural areas and entirely depends on land, people can neither exist nor prosper without this resource. Unfortunately, due to ‘human activities which are exacerbated by natural processes, and often magnified by the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss UNCCD (2013:4), the quality of land has been declining in an alarming rate. As a result, land degradation is becoming a horrifying event all over the world in general and developing countries in particular. For example, Bai, et al. (2008) reported that at global level, the percentage of total land area already degraded or being degraded increased from 15% in 1991 to 25% in 2011. Likewise, FAO (2011) reported that up to 25% of all land is highly degraded and 36% is slightly or moderately degraded. More than ever, the effect of land degradation on both human well-being and ecosystem services is highly devastating. For instance, Nachtergaele, et al. (2010) indicated that land degradation directly affects 1.5 billion people around the world and has already reduced the productivity of the world’s terrestrial surface by about 25% from 1981 to 2003.

When it comes to Africa, the continent is extremely affected by land degradation and constitutes for 65% of world’s arable land degradation (Thiombiano and Tourino-Soto, 2007). The World Bank cited in (Ibid) indicated that no less than 485 million Africans are adversely affected by land degradation. Land degradation is also one of the serious environmental problems facing Ethiopia and hampers the country’s effort of poverty reduction and sustainable development. Given that the country is highly dominated by agriculture, the problem not only declines agricultural productivity which adversely affects livelihoods of its people and local economies but also leads to reduction in biodiversity and stream sedimentation that affect water quantity and quality, storage, and marine resources (Jolejole-Foreman, Baylis, and Lipper, 2012). Some studies conducted so far (Girma, 2001; Temesgen, Amare, and Hagos, 2014) indentified rapid population growth, severe soil loss, deforestation, low vegetative cover and unbalanced crop and livestock production as the major causes of land degradation in Ethiopia.

The people of Konso are well known for their indigenous knowledge and skills of land management. Particularly, the antique and beautiful terraces, traditional agro forestry, and efficient irrigation methods are the prominent features of Konso agricultural system. These practices have enabled them to conserve soil and water and live in extremely difficult environment. Even if the Konso people have such astonishing knowledge and skills of protecting their natural resources (land, soil, water, and forest), land degradation has been one of the serious problems that threaten the livelihoods of the people and practice of soil and water conservation. Many people including myself have a key question to ask: ‘If these people have rich and innovative soil and water conservation practice and become model for the whole world, why has land degradation been their critical problem’? This essay tries to answer this and other related questions. In other words, the main purpose of this paper is to identify the drivers, pressures, and impacts of land degradation on the ecosystem services and livelihood of the Konso people.

2. A Brief Background about Konso Woreda

Konso is one of the five woredas[1] of the Segen Area Peoples’ Zone of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPRS) located at a distance of about 595 and 360 km as of Addis Ababa and Hawassa, respectively. Konso woreda has 44 peasant associations and two towns. Total area of the woreda is estimated to be 2354 km2 with a total population of 234, 987 where males and females constitute 48.3% and 51.7% of the total inhabitants, respectively (CSA, 2007). Topography of the woreda is characterized by hilly and mountainous intersected by valleys, gullies, ragged and plains. The landscape of the woreda is classified as 10% mountainous, 60% hilly undulating, and 30% plain and flat (Konso Special Woreda Agriculture and Rural Development Office (KSWARDO), 2008). Agro-climatically, the woreda is classified as 70% Kola (low altitude below 1500) and 30% Woinadega (mid altitude above 1500). The rainfall is of bimodal and erratic in nature of which 83% falls from February to May referred as Belg rain and 17% from August to November (Mehere, minor rain season) (Konso Development Association (KDA), 2003). In Konso, household economy is based on subsistence mixed farming: crop and livestock production. Sorghum is major crop staple food followed by maize and pulse crops. Other crops grown in smaller quantity include teff, millet, wheat, barley, haricot bean, and pigeon pea. Livestock species such as cattle, goat, sheep and chicken are kept by Konso farmers as a secondary livelihood. There are two cropping seasons: Belg (February-May) accounting for 65-75% of the annual crop production and Meher (Hagayata).

Figure 1: Location of Konso in Ethiopia

illustration not visible in this excerpt


Given this brief background about Konso, this essay aims to answer the following key questions: What is happing to the land in Konso woreda and why? What are the consequences of the state of the land degradation on the livelihoods of the people and ecosystem services? What is being done to solve the problem and how effective is it? In order to answer these questions, different books; journal articles; reports; electronic sources; and other relevant materials were reviewed. To reach at sound upshot, writer personal observation and experience is incorporated, as well. The remaining part of this essay includes a brief literature review, conceptual framework, DPSIR analysis of the woreda, conclusion and recommendations.

3. A Brief Literature Review

3.1. Definition of Key Concepts

3.1.1. Land

Land is one of the scarce invaluable resource without which life is impossible. According to UNEP (1992), land is a broader concept that includes climate and water resources, landform, soils, and vegetation (grassland resources and forests). FAO defines land as ‘a delineable area, encompassing all attributes of the biosphere immediately above or below the earth surface, including the soil, terrain, surface hydrology, the near-surface climate, sediments and associated groundwater reserve, the biological resources, as well as the human settlements pattern and infrastructure resulting from human activity’ (FAO, 1998:31). These definitions show that land is a broader concept that covers a wide range of resources (such as soil, water, and vegetation) upon which all agricultural activities and humans livelihood entirely depends. It can also be understood as a system that is made up various parts (soil, water, vegetation) working together as a whole to provide ecosystem services without which humans can’t stay alive.

3.1.2. Land Degradation

Land degradation is a highly complex phenomenon and defined in various ways. For example, UNEP defines land degradation as short-term or long-term declining of the productive capacity of land (UNEP, 1992). FAO defines it as the reduction in the capacity of the land to perform ecosystem functions and services that support society and development (FAO, 2004). It is the collapse of production capability of land in terms of loss of soil fertility, soil bio-diversity and degradation of natural resources (FAO, 2002). These definitions and that of the land indicated above imply that land degradation has diverse forms including soil degradation, water degradation, vegetation degradation, and biodiversity degradation. These forms of land degradation are high interrelated. For instance, deforestation due to high demand for firewood could lead to soil erosion which in turn could result in reduction of quantity and quality of water and biodiversity. So in this essay, I will focus on these interactions in identifying and analyzing the drivers, pressures, state, impact of and response to land degradation in Konso woreda

3.2. Major Cause of Land Degradation

The causes of land degradation are multifaceted and varied. Scholars have made attempt to identify the causes of land degradation and come up with assorted factors that lead to the problem. Some of them noted that land degradation is caused by the imbalanced interaction between the natural ecosystem and human social system (Berry, 2003). Others, like World Meteorology Organization (2005) and Mulugeta (2004) classified the causes into biophysical factors (e.g. inappropriate land use) and socioeconomic factors (e.g. population growth, subsistence agriculture, poverty, illiteracy, etc).

3.3. Impact of Land Degradation

As indicated above, land degradation is complex phenomena which is manifested in many different ways: hastened soil physical, chemical and biological dwindling, detrimental changes in ecosystem services, reduction in productivity of desired plants (vegetation diminishes), dehydration of water courses, thorny weeds prevail in pastures, soils happen to be slim and rocky, etc (Berry 2003). Gradually, land degradation through these manifestations can adversely affect ecosystem services and hence human livelihood. For example, it leads to socioeconomic problems such as food insecurity, relentless poverty, poor health condition of the people, reduced livelihood opportunities. It also has adverse impact on natural environment such as decline in ecosystem resilience and provision of ecosystem services (Bossio et al. 2004).

4. Conceptual Framework

Understanding the nature, causes, and impacts of land degradation is highly complex due to the fact that it involves interaction and interdependence between and/or among many reinforcing factors. The DPSIR framework has thus been one of the most widely used conceptual framework to understand the complexity of the interaction of environmental issues in general and of the land degradation in particular (Svarstad et al. 2008). This framework is commonly used to demonstrate ecosystem based natural resource management (Alamz Nebyou, 2010). As can be seen from Figure 1 below, the framework has five components: driving forces, pressures, state, impacts, and responses. It shows, a series of underlying relations between driving forces (which may be due economic and human activities), pressures due to human intervention, state of land degradation in the Woreda’ and its impact on ecosystems and human livelihoods, as well as responses (measures taken to deal with the problem). The framework is guided by three key questions: what is happening to the land (state) and why is this happening (driving forces and pressures)? What are the consequences for the environment and people? and what is being done and how effective is it?

In this context, driving forces are needs – desire to meet human’s basic necessities and to improve people’s living standard. These are the factors that cause pressure on the land resources. Pressures are human activities that are induced by driving forces and directly affect the quality of land resources (the state). Pressures can be manifested in the form of excessive, inappropriate, and change in land use. State is about the quality of land and its various components (soil, water, vegetation etc.) in terms of the functions that these components fulfill. Impact is the effect of the state of land degradation on the ecosystems functions and eventually on the livelihoods of the society. Responses are the measures taken or efforts made (mitigation and/or adaptation) by stakeholders in reaction to impacts manifested in various forms (Peter, 2004).

Figure 2: The DPSIR Framework for Land Resource Assessment

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Adapted from IEA Training Manual & LADA Project (FAO)


[1] Woreda is the third-tier administrative divisions of Ethiopian government

Excerpt out of 26 pages


Transforming Konso towards Green Economy through Integrated Land Management
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Konso people, Land degradation, Green Economy, Indigenous soil and water conservation, Cultural landscape
Quote paper
Amanuel Kussia (Author), 2018, Transforming Konso towards Green Economy through Integrated Land Management, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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