Highlights of MERET Experiences Betru Nedassa (Ministry of Agriculture)2nd National Platform on Land and Water management ILRI, Addis Ababa, 19 December 2011
Evolution of MERET MERET project traditionaly known as Food For Work (FFW) Project. It has undergone a series of changes in terms of approach, technologies, technical standards -i.e. under continuous learning & changing process) First, initiated in the form of relief in mid 70s to respond to 1973/4 drought and famine (esp. Wollo & Tigray) Later shifted to dev’t to address major cause of food insecurity (i.e. land degradation) Until 1980, there were small projects (ad hoc type).
Evolution of MERET These were consolidated & organized into FFW ”ETH- 2488” in 1980 (predecessor of MERET) This Marked the begging of large scale (LR, SWC, afforestion & WSM activities in Ethiopia). The project grew to very big project (No of catchments- 117 > 10,000-20,000 ha each) Approach was absolutely top-down Major activities WH, SWC & Afforestation
Achievements of FFW (ETH-2488) Project b/n 1980-1990Indeed the project: Rehabilitated many degraded lands Established many manmade forests Availed fuel wood, construction materials & livestock feed Restored productivity of degraded farmlands and hillsides, esp. in moisture stress areas it was very effective
Limitations The project adopted large watersheds >10, 000 - 20,000ha (not manageable size) Planning is totally centralized i.e top-down The community had little say on their land, about technologies, etc People come to work, in big mass, with little organization Little quality control system for the structures
Consequences Eroded community’s confidence & sense of ownership Caused removal & destruction of structures (less sustainable) Raised question why the community destroys structures Brought the idea of community participation (Minimum Planning, late 80s)However, Before it developed to genuine participation, the change of old regime resulted in destruction of dev’t works in 1991.
Consequences This caused the development of LLPPA in early 90s-from Minimum Planning) But, LLPPA focused on community (i.e. little IWSM) Thus, LLPPA developed to CBPWSM & holistic The project also introduced quality control systems- to effectively control floods & improve water yields These altogether brought better impact- Restored hydrology, biodiversity, improved production and food security But could not fully address food security (i.e. activities were WH, SWC & afforestation)
ConsequencesBrought the idea of integrating:-agric packages & IGAs to fully address Food security ((b/n 1999 & 2000)These Include:- Homestead development (HSD) & income generation activities (IGAs) IGAs:- Horticulture, beekeeping, animal fattening, poultry, etc Small scale irrigation Low cost soil Fertility (SOMM) techniques)Which were not traditionally part of the project intervention
Consequences of HSD & IGAsIncreased the demand for water for small scale irrigationHHs/ Communities in rehabilitated catchments had better access to water (hand dug well, springs, etc)Enabled them to boost production from High value crops (vegetables & fruits)Improved livelihoods & living standardsIncreased awareness about LR, WH & SWC (i.e. Links between upper & down streams ) Increased popularity of LR, WH & SWC
Emergence of MERET (2003) The integration of productivity aspects & IGAs brought dramatic change in the livelihoods Changed the attitude of FFW- dependence on food aid People were no more focusing on food aid, but on dev’t to be rich Brought change of the name from FFW to MERET (in 2003) (to align the name of the project with its real function & activities) i.e. Innovative & creative project- but not creating dependency The idea was also to associate the importance of the project with the value of land-Meret, in our society
Effects of the innovation on attitude Increase interest & sense of ownership for LR, WH & SWC (i.e HHs & communities realized the benefits of WH & SWC) They were committed to sustainable Mag’t & protection of LR & other works Boosted interest, confidence & self-help contribution (up to 45%) As a result, the project became community owned and managed program
Current status & facts about MERET Many visitors come from overseas & different parts to learn MERET experiences MERET best practices and approaches are being copied by similar programs (e.g.PSNP, SLM, etc) MERET has become model for IWSM, productivity & livelihoods improvement Regions are scaling out MERET approaches and best practices & IWSM (i.e. influencing policy makers)
Factors Contributing to Success of MERET Effectiveness of structures (adoption of quality control system) Community empowerment for decision making Combination of right technologies (LR, Productivity improvement & IGAs) Technical capacity built at all levels Démonstration of the new technologies i.e. « seeing is believing »
Factors Contributing to Success (cont’d)Regular technical back up (close supervision)Strict adoption of integrated watershed management approach (IWSM)Linkages, harmonies and partnership among the stakeholders (to acquire technologies, technical supports, resources, etc)
Major ChallengesResource limitation to scale up/out best practicesLack of cash component for promoting IGAsAbsence of impact studies & documentation of MERET best practices (limited promotional works)Limited exposure to innovative technologies at overseasInstitutional instability & frequent staff turnover
Abbreviations LLPPA-Local level participatory planning approach CBPWSM-Community based participatory watershed management Approach HSD-homestead development IGAs-Income generation activities SWC-soil and water conservation WH-water harvesting LR-land rehabilitation FFW-food for work SLM-sustainable land management PSNP-productive safety net program WSM-watershed management IWSM-integrated watershed management SOMM-soil organic matter management MERET- managing environmental resources to enable transition to better livelihoods