Planning the development of watersheds for Ethiopia started in the 1980’s. Since then, rural development efforts by the government (as well as most non-government organisations) have been based on the ‘watershed-logic.’
While this approach is particularly relevant to Ethiopia given its hydro-geology, it applies equally well in several regions across the world. Participatory Watershed Development is now placed firmly at the centre of Ethiopian development policy. In 2005, the federal government published a national guideline for communities, technicians and experts engaged in related activities. It is this document that guides all watershed development in Ethiopia now.
Lakew Desta, Capacity Building and Networking Advisor at TBIWRDP (TanaBeles Integrated Water Resources Development Project ,Ethiopia), was one of the contributors to the Guidelines. In a four-part presentation, he shares Ethiopia’s experiences with Community-based Participatory Watershed Development, with case studies from around the country. In this first part, he explains some basic concepts : what is a watershed? What’s the rationale of watershed-based development? What links watershed development with economic development? Why should watershed development be participatory?