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Analysis Of The Soil And Water Conservation Structural Design And Its Effect In Response To Land Use and Land Cover Changes: The Case Of Gidabo River Sub-Basin

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Gidabo River sub basin is an area characterized by rugged topography, dense population and indigenous agroforestry system in the Ethiopian Rift valley region. Though different soil and water conservation (SWC) efforts and investments are underway, land degradation and food insecurity problems are increasing that threaten the sustainable development of the area. Moreover, evidence of the causes of soil erosion and success or failures of conservation efforts across different agroecology (altitudinal belt), and soil conservation practices were not sufficiently studied. The objectives of this study were; therefore, to investigate the status, dynamics, drivers, and implications of land use and land cover change (LULCC) of the past thirty-three years (1986-2019) and identify the implemented physical SWC technologies, and design in respect to the standard as well as constraints of conservation practices. In addition, the investigation was carried out on the effect of the physical SWC work on the soil properties along with different agroecology. The study employed an interdisciplinary approach. Data were collected from primary and secondary sources such as Land sat 5 (™), and Land sat 8 (OLI), household surveys, key informants, focus groups, field measurements, lab work, and field observations. For the household survey, 280 participants were selected using a multistage sampling approach. Quantitative data were analyzed by using mean, ANOVA, and chi-square, whereas the qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis. The study revealed that in the past 33 years, about 34% of the area was changed to other land use and land cover (LULC) classes. This implies agroforestry, settlement, forest, and bare land cover were expanded at the expense of shrub/woodland, grassland and cropland classes. For the study period, the highest increment by (14%) and the highest reduction by (10.3%) was observed in agroforestry and shrub/woodland classes respectively. The finding indicated that the LULCC of the area was ultimately driven by the interplay of biophysical, socio-economic, and political factors. Though newly introduced SWC practices have been implemented in 2005 under Safety net and active community participation programme the conservation work is not fully successful in supporting the agroforestry system and improving soil property compared to the existing socio-economic and environmental conditions of the area. The factors that contributed to the problems are small land size, high population pressure, poor adoption of the standard design and principles of SWC, lack of technical skill on the introduced SWC work, lack of labor force, food insecurity, poor access to agricultural inputs, and lack of interest in agricultural work among the youth. Though all these problems commonly found in the study area the levels of constraints were significantly varied along different agroecology. Therefore, the study recommended that a joint effort is needed among all stakeholders (policymakers, political leaders, experts, and farmers) in a way to solve the local constraints and support the agroforestry system. Also rigorous efforts are required to apply the standard design and principles of SWC practices based on agroecological variations that suit for the sustainable development of the area.
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    Abbadico, G.H.




    land use, soil conservation, water conservation, soil water, land cover



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