Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 2641–2665 | Cite as

Impacts of soil and water conservation intervention on rural livelihoods in the Middle Suluh Valley, Tigray Region, northern Ethiopia

  • Solomon HisheEmail author
  • James Lyimo
  • Woldeamlak Bewket


The main objective of this study was to examine impacts of soil and water conservation (SWC) practice on the livelihoods of the rural community in the Middle Suluh Valley, Tigray region, northern Ethiopia. A socioeconomic survey was conducted on 246 household heads to analyze the impact of SWC interventions on the livelihoods of the farmers. A multinomial logistic regression was used to analyze the livelihood and food security status of the respondents. By considering the independent variables of incomes generated from different sources and the dependent variable of respondent’s livelihood status, the final model fitting was statistically significant (p < 0.001) at 0.05 significance level and the Pearson goodness of fit is statistically significant (p = 1.000). The Cox and Snell R-square and Nagelkerke R-square values are 0.235 and 0.266, respectively, suggesting that between 24 and 27% of the variability was explained by the set of independent variables. The independent variable (income from different sources) classifies the dependent variable (livelihood status) by 58%, which is moderately adequate. The result shows that 93% of the interviewed farmers have been practicing SWC over the past 25 years. More than half of the respondents (60%) agreed that the current fertility of their farmland is highly improved after the implementation of SWC measures. Explicitly saying, 96% of the respondents observed a reduction of soil erosion and an increase of vegetation cover in their locality due to SWC measures. The overall livelihood of the community was measured with the framework of the sustainable rural livelihood (SRL), and the analysis shows that achievement of the capital assets from SWC activities was ranked as natural > physical = human > financial > social sequentially. In general, we conclude that SWC implemented in the study area has positively impacted on the livelihoods of the community and hence, we recommend that its sustainability should be given due attention at all levels.


Soil and water conservation Sustainable rural livelihoods Capital assets Suluh 



The corresponding author would like to thank TRECCAfrica II for providing him PhD scholarship to study at the Institute of Resources Assessment, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. We thank Mekelle University, College of Social Sciences and Languages for providing vehicle to the fieldwork for data collection. The first author is also grateful to Mekelle University for granting research fund under registration number CRPO/CSSL/PhD/003/08 and to Association of African Universities (AAU) for awarding small grants for thesis writing to the first author. Finally, we thank the two anonymous reviewers for providing insightful comments on the article.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and Environmental StudiesMekelle UniversityMekelleEthiopia
  2. 2.Institute of Resource AssessmentUniversity of Dar es SalaamDar es SalaamTanzania
  3. 3.Department of Geography and Environmental StudiesAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia

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