Ecosystem-Based Adaptation in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia: A Systematic Review of Interventions, Impacts, and Challenges

  • Mulubrhan BalehegnEmail author
  • Mitiku Haile
  • Chao Fu
  • Wu Liang
Reference work entry


The Tigray regional state in the northern part of Ethiopia has been severely affected by centuries of land degradation and climate change-induced recurrent drought and extreme weather variability. Government and people have, therefore, steadily implemented internationally recognized (Example at Rio 20 for Innovative Hunger Solutions and recently Gold Medal Winner at the World Future Council award for Best policy in Combating Desertification and Land Degradation: The World’s Best Policies land rehabilitation and ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) programs. Despite the international recognition for the successes, the specifics of the different interventions implemented, the impacts observed, challenges encountered have not been well articulated and communicated, in a way that would enable other similar regions to learn from the experiences of Tigray region of Ethiopia. In this chapter, we reviewed 170 publications on 30 EBA interventions in 400 sites in Tigray. Interventions fall in either of the following categories: Soil and Water Conservation (SWC) (62.69%), Biological Rehabilitation (BR) (18.41%), Water Harvesting and Production (WHP) (7.46%), Soil Fertility Improvement (6.22%), Conservation Agriculture (3.48%), and Integrated Watershed Management (1.74%). While many studies reported impressive biophysical changes, e.g., decrease in runoff and increased sediment deposition (in 63.93% of cases), farmer-relevant impacts such as improvements in crop and livestock yields and income/livelihoods have been quantified only in 8.46%, 1.6%, and 4.16% of cases, respectively, implying that implementers are failing to communicate impacts, causing a missed opportunity for fast dissemination and mobilization in other similar places. The most successful interventions include exclosures and variety of soil and water conservation measures (mainly stone bunds), while those that showed limited positive impacts are water harvesting and production schemes. Popular support and capitalization on locally available resources are the most cited reasons for success of interventions, while overambitious and myopic project planning, top-down approach, limited technical skills are common challenges encountered. In this chapter, we summarized one of the most successful cases of EBA and land rehabilitation intervention in the world, identified strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and suggested solutions in a way that could enable other communities learn from the EBA experiences of Tigrian farmers and government.


EBA Land rehabilitation Tigray Northern Ethiopia Land degradation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mulubrhan Balehegn
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mitiku Haile
    • 2
  • Chao Fu
    • 3
  • Wu Liang
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Animal, Rangeland and Wildlife SciencesMekelle UniversityMekelleEthiopia
  2. 2.Department of Land Resource Management and Environmental ProtectionMekelle UniversityMekelleEthiopia
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Research Center for World Geography and Resources, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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