Thursday 27 October 2016

My CIRCLE Experience to date – Exploring climate change effects on land use management in Ethiopia

By Dr. Wondye Admasu Molla, Wollo University, Ethiopia
Cohort 2 CIRCLE Visiting Fellow

My study aims to investigate land-use management practices and climate change adaptation and mitigation measures being implemented in the three districts of the South Wollo Zone, Amhara Regional State, Ethiopia. From 26, April 2016 to 12 June 2016 I was in the field collecting data in the rural districts of Borena, Sayint and Mehal Sayint. The data collection went well apart from a small challenge when our car got stuck in the mud for one full day due to unexpected heavy rains. It was very difficult for my driver to remove the car, however, thanks to the local community and administrators we were able to get the car out.

I conducted group discussions and interviews with farmers, elderly people, local government sector offices, with the three district administration leaders, community representatives and honey bee farmers. The discussions mainly focused on sustainable land management practices in Borena, Sayint and Mehal Sayint and on the adaptation and mitigation measures by the communities and the local government.

Group discussions with local farmers
What was learnt from the discussions and interviews is that, generally, the farmers are aware of the observed climate variability/change in terms of rainfall and temperature in their locality. Every farmer also remembers every historical year during which critical drought shocks caused severe loss of animals and crops. Farmers also understand that there has been a gradual change in cropping systems following continuous temperature increases (crops like maize which were mainly grown in the lowland encroached upward to the highland which were predominated by barley).

The 1991-1992 land distribution allowed the people to resettle in Borena Sayint National Park which led to severe deforestation. As a result, dramatic land use changes have occurred through violating previous boundaries of the Park particularly from Mehal Saynt district side. The locality is affected seriously by the effects of climate change, which has led to increasing temperatures and a reduction of rainfall, intensified by deforestation for the purpose of agricultural land, firewood and construction.

However, efforts are currently underway to mitigate the effects of climate change. Currently, farmers in the study districts, along with national Sustainable Land Management (SLM) and Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) strategies, have been assigned 30 to 60 days/year free labour for soil and water conservation activities to restore the ecology and adapt to climate change. Large area closures are developing with the aim of restoring the land and biodiversity.

Farmers working on terracing for soil and water conservation
Since returning from the field I have now organized and analysed my data and am currently writing articles for publication in this quarter, based on these observations.

Capacity Building Training

With the recommendation of my supervisors and the Department of Environmental Sciences, I had the privilege to participate in the academic writing training workshop organized by my host institution, the University of South Africa (UNISA). The training was presented by Emerald Publishing Group on “scholarly publishing” from 10-11, March 2016 and by Elsevier on 06 September 2016. The two training workshops were very useful because they targeted how to write publishable articles for academic journals.

I also took 5 days international training on GIS and Remote Sensing for Climate Change Impact Analysis and Adaptation at IRES Training Centre Nairobi, Kenya. I am now using the methods and techniques gained from the training, such as Landsat Imagery to detect the land Use/ Land cover change in Borena Sayint National Park since 1972.

Conference Participation

With the sponsorship of CIRCLE I have participated in the Environmental Education Association of Southern Africa(EEASA) 2016 conference from 3-6 October 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. I presented some of my research findings and gained much from the workshop. It helped me to create networks with experienced professionals from different countries within and outside Africa to work together in the future. 

Support during CIRCLE

Since the start of the programme the support obtained from the CIRCLE team- ACU, AAS, Wollo University (home institution), UNISA (host institution) has been excellent. As far as my questions have been aligned with the CIRCLE objectives and policies, the support from all the CIRCE team in every aspect of my career development has been great.    

I am also very grateful to my supervisors, Dr Muchaiteyi Togo, and Dr. Munyaradzi Chitakira Senior Lecturers in the Department of Environmental Sciences at UNISA for their warm welcome to my host institution, consistent and stimulating guidance, valuable and constructive discussions and suggestions; and critical reading to reshape my proposal for the submission of ethical clearance. I would also thank my specialist advisor Dr. James Cheshire for his consistent follow-up and critical reading and comments on my proposal.


  1. This is great Dr Molla. CIRCLE has actually empowered us.

  2. Thanks for sharing and well done on the progress so far. Wish you the best quality outputs from the interesting work.