The village of Abreha We Atsbeha in eastern Tigray is in one of the most degraded areas in the region. The short rainy season of two to three months, coupled with an increasing population, further aggravates the challenges facing the inhabitants. Water scarcity and the erosion of fertile soil have accelerated land degradation and contributed to declining agricultural produc¬tivity, meaning that the local community has been food insecure for many years. Due to this, in 1998 villagers were given two choices by the govern¬ment: either be resettled to an area with more conducive climatic conditions, or implement land¬scape restoration with the help of the Ministry of Agriculture. The local community found it difficult to accept relocation. The only alternative was to join hands and reverse land degradation. This article presents what has been achieved, the benefits and the key factors for the success of this restoration initiative.
This article was submitted for inclusion in the forthcoming edition of ETFRN News 60 - Restoring African drylands, due for release in December 2020, containing 25 articles plus interviews and boxes describing farmer-led, NGO, private sector, government and international initiatives. These highlight the roles of varied policies and stakeholder interests, and identify opportunities to encourage smallholder and community participation in scaling out successes and meeting national, regional and global commitments.