Ziway Shalla is a closed water basin, located in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia, the country’s most important wetland area. It secures the livelihoods of local communities, a broad spectrum of wildlife and migratory birds. However, this unique ecosystem is currently threatened through overconsumption of water by smallholder farmers and larger agribusinesses in the context of climate change. The Ziway Shalla Basin in Balance (ZSBiB) project aims to change this by working to secure a balanced ecosystem with sustainable and transparent water usage and a water distribution plan. Thereby improving water security and income of agricultural producers, particularly small farmers and women, in the lake Ziway catchment area.
Based on a systematic approach, the project aims to address the causes of the decline in water quantity and quality in the Ziway-Shalla basin, namely:
• Unchecked and inefficient use of irrigation water by smallholder horticultural farmers;
• Lack of a transparent and fair water allocation and sharing model;
• Limited institutional framework and capacity for basin management;
• Poor watershed management causing erosion and sedimentation
Smallholder farmers are supported to improve their productivity and use water more efficiently. For example, demonstration fields are being established showcasing best practices, and new efficient irrigation systems and are functioning as a training ground.
The local public authority responsible for the basin management – RVLBDO– will be supported through institutional capacity strengthening to develop a participatory Water Allocation Plan (WAP).
Furthermore, the project will undertake a range of watershed interventions at the most critical sites, generating on-farm benefits for upland farmers while increasing their awareness with regard to unsustainable land management, subsequent erosion, and long-term consequences.
By the end of the project, the foundation for rebalancing the Ziway-Shalla Basin will have been laid, including an improved income for farmers and a Water Allocation Plan ready for a broader rollout.
Want to know more about the Ziway Basin in Balance project? Watch this video:
Wetlands International is implementing a variety of projects in Ethiopia. For example, the ZSBiB project is accompanied by the SaWeL safeguarding Sahelian wetlands for food security project in the same Ziway-Shalla basin. This project particularly addresses how to scale up agricultural innovations like water-saving and agro-ecology through simultaneously working with smallholder farmers, service providers (input and credit suppliers, buyers and cooperatives) as well as governmental agencies.