Fresh water, the reward of land restoration, flows in Ethiopia’s dry zone

Success stories of how land restoration has transformed landscapes and livelihoods in four watersheds of Tigray, Northern Ethiopia.

Fresh water — its availability or lack thereof — is a powerful signal of the health of an ecosystem. On a whirlwind tour of four watersheds in Tigray province, located on the northernmost tip of Ethiopia, we found large and small dams full of clean water, productive boreholes, and even waterfalls. People were busy harvesting heavy crops of teff and wheat, and the cows and goats around the trees looked healthy and well fed. Land restoration has brought back water and vibrant colour to a previously bleak and desolate landscape just south of the Sahara.

The visit was arranged as part of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) inaugural conference, held from 11–12 October 2016 in Addis Ababa. After discussing plans for restoring 100 million hectares of the continent’s degraded landscapes, 50 international participants were taken to Tigray see what land restoration can do for landscapes and people. In two days (13 and 14 October), we went to A breha we Atsbeha, Kihen, Geregera and Mossa watersheds.

Professor Mitiku of Mek’ele University and Chris Reij of the […]

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