Abay, Alem Araya

Land-use Efficiency for Sustainable Agriculture and Livelihood:
The Case of Northern Ethiopia


 In Ethiopia, agriculture, with its poor performance, is the source of livelihood for more than 80% of the population. Land degradation, together with other environmental problems, however, is impelling this sector into the predicament of unsustainability and abysmally low productivity. Currently, the average yield in the average holding size of less than a hectare is 12q/ha only. Consequently, a significant proportion of the rural population is facing food insecurity and poverty. Moreover, the already high land degradation and its consequences are exacerbated by population growth, climate variability and limited land-management practices by farmers.

The present land use is unsustainable for various biophysical and socio-economic reasons.Basically, because of a lack of capacity and motivation, the use of improved inputs by poor farmers is limited. More specifically, farmers may not be willing or may be unable to apply improved technologies due to a lack of knowledge and of access to assets, technology, services and facilities, due to uncertainty about returns etc. These, in turn, are conditioned by factors such as land quality, climate variability, land-tenure insecurity and unhelpful policies. In attaining economic and environmental objectives, policies can therefore be used as instrument to dis/encourage the practices of farmers. Although huge efforts have been made for decades, the debilitating livelihood conditions of farm households and the multidimensional problems of unsustainable land use cannot come to an end. Policies therefore need the support of research that integrates biophysical and socio-economic factors and that interactively produces economic and environmental outcomes.

This study accordingly intends to investigate the economic and environmental outcomes of the decisions of farm households under the above constraints in Northern Ethiopia. It will therefore evaluate the impacts of alternative policies and technologies on the livelihoods of farm households and sustainable land use.

Supervisor: Dr Josephine Musango, Senior Lecturer: School of Public Leadership (SPL)/TsamaHub; Faculty of Economic & Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University.

Disciplinary history: BA Economics, Asmara University, Eritrea; MA Regional and Local Development Studies, University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Faculty/department of registration: Faculty of Economics & Management Sciences; School of Public Leadership, SU (2013)