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Doctoral thesis, 2010

Land-use and land-cover dynamics and rural livelihood perspectives, in the semi-arid areas of Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia

Garedew, Efrem


Global environmental changes in climate, land-use and bio-diversity are increasingly on top of scientific and political agenda. The impacts of climate change are manifested on all dimensions of food security: availability, accessibility, utilization and stability. This study presents land-use and land-cover (LULC) dynamics, rural livelihoods, and a dynamic simulation model of a socio-economical and environmental system in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia. Using different methods and approaches (remote sensing and participatory field point sampling, household survey, PRA and use of secondary data) the analyses revealed rapid LULC change over the past three decades. The area is characterized by high rate of conversion from woodland and wooded-grassland to farmland. For decades, subsistence agriculture has been the most important livelihood strategy but low level of its income does not meet basic everyday household expenditure. The importance of livelihood diversification has grown in response to population pressure that led to a decline in farm size and agricultural shocks due to biophysical factor limitations. Food insecurity is persistent and widespread. Using STELLA software, the dynamic model simulated an extensive land-use change, largely driven by the decisions of the people and population growth. It is characterized by rapid population growth, declining household farm size, declining household income, deterioration of the remnant forest and worsening land degradation if the situation remains unchanged. The simulated strategies, such as forest increase, and the projected micro-finance, better family planning and better education, are likely to improve forest cover and area, decrease land degradation, raising household income and help to slowing down population growth. The following conclusions can be drawn from the study: 1) monitoring LULC dynamics using a combination of remote sensing and participatory field point sampling is a valuable approach for land-use inventory; 2) the dramatic trends in LULC were associated with rapid population growth, recurrent droughts, rainfall variability and declining agricultural productivity; 3) food security is vulnerable to climatic change; 4) Currently, opportunities for additional income generating activities are limited. External interventions are important to improve farmers’ livelihoods and to heal the natural environment.


land use; climatic change; rural environment; socioeconomic development; food security; remote sensing; simulation models; ethiopia

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2010, number: 2010:7
ISBN: 9789157674845
Publisher: Dept.of Forest Resource Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    SLU Authors

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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