A review of INBAR’s land restoration project in Ethiopia.
INBAR’s technical support of the World Bank ‘Sustainable Land Management Programme’ in Ethiopia came to an end in late 2018. The project constituted one of INBAR’s main initiatives in Ethiopia.
The overall programme aims to reduce land degradation and improve land productivity across selected watersheds in targeted regions of Ethiopia. As a native species to Ethiopia, which has remarkable benefits for land restoration, bamboo was included in the project, and INBAR was chosen as the only provider of technical assistance for this component. Under the oversight of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resource (MoALR), for three years INBAR provided technical support in a number of targeted areas, to increase Ethiopia’s bamboo resources, and to transfer knowledge, skills and technology for bamboo seedling production, plantation and livelihoods development.
The project had a number of remarkable achievements, including:
- Creation of site assessments and other technical publications. Six baseline studies were produced for the target micro-watersheds, which identified the main training needs and knowledge gaps which need to be addressed in order to scale up bamboo resource development and use. INBAR also produced a training manual, for use during a number of key training sessions (see below) and a value chain analysis and market assessment of bamboo products in Ethiopia. The latter is an extensive study which identifies marketing gaps for bamboo products, and provides strategic recommendations and policy advice for future bamboo use in the country. The assessment went on to inform the content of bamboo livelihood training conducted in target regions.
- Plans to plant bamboo. With INBAR’s assistance, 10 bamboo afforestation plans were prepared in the years 2017 and 2018. The plans provide technical details and assistance to help build capacity for resource development in these areas. INBAR also helped directly to plant bamboo: over 400 hectares of bamboo were planted between 2017 and 2018.
- Nurturing bamboo resources. Bamboo nurseries are a prerequisite for building bamboo resources in an area. INBAR has strengthened five bamboo nursery sites across the target watersheds, and established an additional nursery. One important side benefit of these nurseries has been their role in training people in bamboo management and propagation techniques, and in raising awareness more generally. INBAR also introduced 12 (non-invasive) bamboo species, picked for their suitability to Ethiopia’s growing conditions, and their socio-economic potential. Finally, INBAR helped facilitate the production of over two million bamboo seedlings, of which a million were taken out for field planting, and the remainder were maintained in bamboo nurseries for further propagation and afforestation.
Introduction of important new techniques, including different means of bamboo vegetative propagation (culm cutting, branch cutting, branch layering, wildlings and offset planting) in all target nurseries.
- Training. Overall, some 1700 beneficiaries were trained on bamboo propagation and sustainable harvesting, as well as product creation. Participants were trained in how to produce a variety of bamboo handicrafts, and have since started working in a model enterprise set up by the government. This business allows them to own a bamboo workshop and benefit from technical support and follow-up requests.
- High-level visits to China. Two high-level bamboo study tours was conducted in China, to introduce Ethiopian policy makers and high-level experts to the benefits of the country’s thriving bamboo sector. In 2017, State Minister to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources, Dr. Kaba Urgessa, and Mr. Habtamu Hailu, National Programme Coordinator of the Sustainable Land Management project, visited bamboo regions of China. In November 2018, 15 delegates including Mr. Tefera Tadesse, Director of Natural Resources at MoALR, and regional deputy heads of agricultural offices travelled to China’s Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces. Participants confirm that this close-up introduction to China’s bamboo sector has motivated them to make bamboo a priority for future development.
Overall, the project showcased the importance of bamboo development and technologies transfer. INBAR worked with a large number of partners in the project, including Universities, research centres, private bamboo investors and the Ethiopian Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission. Their engagement helped raise awareness about bamboo’s usefulness for land restoration, among sectors which had previously not considered the plant.
The Sustainable Land Management project ended in December 2018, but INBAR is expecting to continue its work, under the forthcoming Resilient Landscape and Livelihood Project: an initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources which is being supported by the World Bank.