A roadmap to reduce drought risk in Ethiopia

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Wetlands International and partners working in the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia published the Atlas of the Upper Fafan Catchment. The Atlas consists of a series of vegetation cover and water resource maps over time and provides a fundamental understanding of the challenges and opportunities for conservation.

The resulting analysis and conclusions provide a roadmap for interventions leading to sustainable natural resource management and reduction of risks for droughts and flash floods in this disaster prone region. This novel approach is replicable in other catchments facing severe environmental degradation.

“An understanding of the landscape is fundamental to reverse the ongoing environmental degradation and improve livelihoods,” said Marie-Jose Vervest, Programme Manager Community Resilience at Wetlands International. “The Upper Fafan Atlas is indispensable for guiding where and how to support long-term sustainable natural resource management in this degraded landscape.”

The Upper Fafan Catchment in the Somali Regional State of north-eastern Ethiopia covers 3709 km2. Rural communities here depend heavily on natural resources for their livelihoods; hence, a lack of proper management of the environment is a serious problem. Ecosystems are degrading at an alarming rate, mainly due to the loss of vegetation caused by overgrazing and deforestation. Extreme weather events are also increasing, and the region has suffered through years of low rainfall and a punishing drought.

The Atlas maps the landscape based on biophysical, socio-economic, land use and management, ecosystems and water resources assessments. This provides a baseline on the challenges and opportunities to halt and reverse environmental degradation using improved land and water management.

Strengthening Community Resilience through restored ecosystems

Using the Atlas as a roadmap, Wetlands International and partners are piloting efforts to improve food and water security and disaster risk reduction. Together with the Manual for Implementation and accompanying case studies and suitability maps, we are working with local governments and communities to address the underlying problems that are degrading the landscape and causing disasters.

Wetlands International works in the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia with partners The Netherlands Red Cross, the Ethiopia Red Cross Society, Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs on strengthening community resilience. The development of the Atlas was led by Acacia Water.

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Atlas of the Upper Fafan Catchment