Enhancing livelihood assets of households through watershed management intervention program: case of upper Gibe basin, Southwest Ethiopia

  • Fekadu MengistuEmail author
  • Engdawork Assefa
Original paper


Widespread watershed management intervention strategies have been implemented in Ethiopia to enhance farmers’ livelihoods. However, there is hardly any attempt to document the interface of watershed management and livelihood assets. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of watershed management intervention program on the sustainable livelihood assets of households in Gibe basin, Southwest Ethiopia. A cross-sectional survey research design was employed to collect data from 304 randomly selected watershed management program participant and non-participant households in six rural villages. Household survey, key informant interviews and focus group discussions were employed to collect data. Descriptive analysis, independent t test and radar diagram were used to analyze the data. Propensity score matching method and probit model were also used to determine the significance of the differences of the participants and non-participants and causal treatment effects. The result of the study indicated that the aggregated value of overall livelihood assets and the specific principal components that encompass human, natural, financial, social and physical assets were better for watershed management program participants than those of non-participants, but both belong to the average category of livelihood asset improvement scale. The radar diagram depicted imbalance in the five principal assets for respondents in the study area, suggesting that the livelihood asset structure is not sustainable. The probit model result showed that program participation decision of the households is affected by age, livestock ownership, distance to farmers’ training center, topographical location, distance of farmland and access to watershed program training. Estimates of the propensity score matching indicated the existence of a positive additional significant livelihood asset value of 24.8% for program participants compared to non-participants. Findings of the study suggested that further emphasis is needed to enhance the households’ livelihood assets for sustainability of both livelihoods and natural resources by minimizing gaps in the improvement in the five dimensions of livelihood assets. It also suggested the extension of the program to non-participant areas. Policy makers and development practitioners have to focus on the aforementioned factors of group differences.


Watershed management program Program participants Livelihood assets Impacts Gibe River Southwest Ethiopia 



We would like to thank the farmers, local administrators and watershed management experts of the study area for their cooperation during the field work. We are also grateful to Addis Ababa University (AAU) and Debre Berhan University (DBU) for providing financial support for the data collection and write-up of the manuscript.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Environment and Development StudiesAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Environmental StudiesDebre Berhan UniversityDebre BerhanEthiopia

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