Analyses of Land use land cover changes

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The data for this study fall into three categories: land use and cover change, socio-economic attributes and document analysis (policies and legislations designed at different government régimes and levels). Clarkson’s (1998) stakeholder classification into three groups, i.e. ‘authority’ stakeholders (government officials at federal, regional and sub-district level and Park administrators & workers), ‘local’ stakeholders (pastoralists and agro-pastoralists), and ‘networking’ stakeholders (NGOs and tourism workers), were our main target groups of social attributes.
As the qualitative method is appropriate to evaluate views, perceptions and experience of respondents while quantitative method is more appropriate to gather data amenable to statistical analysis (Yin, 1994), we employed both qualitative and quantitative techniques in our study to consider socio-economic, political and physical attributes. Here we give a detail explanation on our research techniques, data collection instruments and methods of analysis employed to study the use and management of resources in the protected area of Awash National Park, Ethiopia. The methodology we employed was specifically tailored to answer the following research questions.

The study area


Awash National Park (ANP), Ethiopia, was the first national Park to be established in the country and only one of two gazetted National Parks in Ethiopia(Blower, 1968; Negarit Gazeta, 1969). The Park lies within 8045′ -9015′ N and 39045′-4005′ E where the Ethiopian Rift Valley joins the Afar Triangle, in the Eastern part of Ethiopia. In administrative terms it is located between Afar and Oromiya regional states of Ethiopia (Figure 3.1). The Park is surrounded in the west by Sabober plains while Metehara town and adjacent Kebeles border it in the southwestern direction. Kasem River and Sabure town are found North West and North of the Park, respectively. Its southern border is demarcated by the Awash River. As defined by the existing boundary markers (beacons), the ANP has an approximate size of 756 km2, and is located 225 km from the capital̶ Addis Ababa. At the time of establishment the Park was given a classification of “strict conservation area” defined as excluding all kinds of human use in the area like settlement, exploitation of natural resources, and grazing (Moore, 1982).

Biophysical resources


Climatically, the study site is semi-arid or “Qolla” climatic zone and experiences an annual rainfall between 277 and 653 mm which falls in two distinct rainy seasons (Daniel,1977). The crucial factor is not only the little amount of rainfall which is 540 mm per year in average but also the distribution of the rainfall across seasons. The maximum rainfall is recorded between June and September with a second short rainy season from February to April. The highest number of rainy days are in August (15 days).The total amount of rainfall in both rainy seasons has decreases by 26 mm per decade over the 43 years though the change is not statistically significant (Figure 3.2). Nowadays the area receives unreliable and inadequate amount of rainfall and the distribution is highly variable from one year to another, which makes the area prone to recurrent drought (Jacobs and Schloeder, 1993).
The average temperature of the study area is 26.60C. The area experiences a daily temperature fluctuation between 180 and 340C (Tessema et al., in press). Trends of temperature distribution show that maximum, minimum and mean temperature of the Park has increased by 0.4, 2.3 and 1.40C per decade over four decades (Figure 3.3).There is a significant change in temperature between 1966 and 2006 (P = 0.001; Figure 3.3).


Geologically, it is located in one of the most active regions in the world and has extraordinary interesting features from the physiographic point of view (Stager, 1990).The formation of the present structure, hydrology and the soil of the ANP was due to rifting and volcanic activities. It has diverse topographical features ranging in altitude from 2007 meter above sea level at the top of Mount Fentale and below 1000 meter above sea level across most of the plains (Jacobs and Schloeder, 1993).


The soil types in the Park are grouped according to the volcanic nature of the parent material. Seven types of soil were identified in different parts of the Park (Jacobs and Schloeder, 1993). These include eutricregosol at the base of Mountain Fentalle, mollicandosol around Metehara, eutrichistosols in most of lowland plain including IllalSala, eutricfluvisols at the bank of Awash river, orthicsolnchak soil around Kesem Kebena plain, gleyicksolonchack soil around the hot spring area and calcaric fluvisol soil around Beseka lake and the hot spring area. The clay content of the soil also determined by the intensity of gazing pressure (heavy or light) on particular sites (Tessema et al., 2009). The same author reported that areas with high grazing pressure as areas of high proportion of bare land as well as high herbaceous species.


There are 8 major vegetation types dominated by grass and acacia land type (Jacobs and Schloeder, 1993) which are classified under Acacia-Commiphora woodland (Sebsebe and Friis, 2009). The total abundance of woody species in the Park is not influenced by grazing pressure rather (Tessema et al., 2011). The bushland and woodland are most commonly found vegetation types in areas with shallow andosols and alluvial soil (Jacobs and Schloeder, 1993).

Invasive plant species

An invasion by imported plant species has been observed in and around the Park boundary. For instance, Parthenium hysterophorus plants are found in adjacent fields that are used for livestock grazing and sometimes for cropping. According to our botanist assistant the substantial impact of Parthenium has been observed in arable and grazing land in the Gelcha, Benti and Kobo areas. Consequently, a significant amount of forage production for livestock and sorghum grain was lost. The Park warden noted that the invasion of this specie is not only a thereat for forage and crop production but also to wildlife population. No one could explain the economic value of this species in terms of forage or other purposes in the area.


The ANP was protected at first as a private hunting reserve for Emperor Haile Selassie I (Petrides, 1961) and was designed to protect wild animals such as Beisa Oryx (Oryx beisa), Lesser kudu, Soemmerring’s gazelle, Hamadryas baboon and Swanes Hartebeast (Jacobs and Schroeder, 1993). Beisa Oryx (Oryx beisa) is the flagship species which is commonly found in Illalsala grassland and wooded grassland of the Park all year. The Park is home for 467 species of birds 6 of which are endemic (Hillman, 1988).The exact Figure of species of reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrate in the Park is unknown. Some wild animals such are leopards, lions, black-backed and golden jackals, caracals and wildcats are also rarely seen in the Park (Jacobs and Schloeder, 1993).

Human Population and Livestock

With the exception of the pastoralist communities, people in the Fentale and Awash Fenatle district live in towns and rural labor camps. Both populations have increased in a short period of time (Jacobs and Schloeder, 1993): between1994 and 1997 the population of Fentale district increased from 60,048 to 82,225 (National Census Report, 1997). The same census report showed the total population for Awash Fentale district during the same period to increase from16, 567 to 29,775. Table 3.1 shows that the estimated total population for studied sub-districts is 14,221. The average household size is more than 7 which is greater than the national figure given to Fentale (i.e.5) and Awash Fentale (i.e. 6.1) (CSA, 2007).
The lifestyle and type of settlement of Afar and Kereyou-Ittu communities are associated with livestock rending. According to the aerial survey by Jacobs and Schroeder (1993) the total population of livestock in the three communities in 1990 was 106,301. Approximately after two decades survey results show this figure to have grown to 120,370 (Table 3.1).
Among the eight sub-districts in Fentale district seven of them are fully or partially located within the territory of the Park. Whereas the three sub-districts in Awash Fentale are found outside the Park. Women and elders usually stay at home while young male and female member of the family move with their livestock and do different jobs (firewood and palm leaves collection) far from their settlement.

Surrounding rural communities

The communities surrounding the ANP are predominantly pastoralist and agro pastoralists in which their main stay relies on the income gained from the sale of animals. There are a total of 11 sub-districts and of these three belong to the Afar and the remaining eight are settled by the Kereyou-Ittu. Moreover, the ANP is a site where the boarders of a number of regional states meet and where a number of conflicting tribes, nations and nationalities are found (Daniel, 1977).


The Afar, inhabiting the Awash-Fentale District, are amongst the largest pastoral groups in Ethiopia. They are settled to the north and north east of the Park. Their economy is predominantly dependent on livestock herding with a recently remarkable shift to agro-pastoralist activities. Nowadays, they practice crop production using irrigation instead of depending on rain-fed agriculture. Overall, there is a growing tendency to get additional income through farming and other activities. The Afar women have the responsibility of generating money from selling of palm, charcoal and fuelwood on a daily base.
Palm tree is exclusively found within the western boundary of the Awash-Fentale District. The Afar community especially women whose residence is near the Filwuha area generate money by selling palm leaves. The community organizes their own traditional management system for sustainable use of the palm trees. During severe drought palm trees are utilized not only for income generation but also as source of fruit for human consumption.

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The Kereyou are the indigenous community who belong to the Oromo ethnic group. Historically they were the dominant land users of Fentale district and the Metehara plain until early 1950’s (Jacobs and Schloeder, 1993). They are predominantly engaged in livestock herding with growing tendency to practice both rain-fed and irrigated agriculture (Ayalew, 2009). The total population of the Kereyou was estimated about 34,365 while animals (cattle, sheep, goat, donkey and camel) stood at about 163,000 (Fentale District Report, 2010). They are not integrated into the surrounding urban society and still they are marginalizing in the different social and economic aspects (Jacobs and Schloeder, 1993). Land alienation is one of the critical problems of the Kereyou community (Eyasu, 2001). They have been affected by drought conditions at several times. Consequently, they use a more intensive model of pastoralism during dry spells (Piguet and Hadgu, 2002). The establishment of the Kereyou in the area of Lake Beseka, Sabore Plains and Metehara was due to restriction of their movement by the Argoba tribe, who are also engaged in animal husbandry, to the north west of Fentale (Jacobs and Schloeder, 1993). The Kereyou are characterized by good behavior and by a non-provocative and tolerant nature in their interaction with the Afar and other surrounding communities.
The lifestyle of the Kereyou has been changed into sedentary type due to the establishment of large scale agricultural development in their locality (Ayalew, 2009). Economically, they largely depend on the selling of their animals animal products like butter and milk to the surrounding urban population. The Kereyou women make money by selling firewood and rarely charcoal. Also, some Kereyous earn money either through farming or working for plantation and other conservation entities in the region (Jacobs and Schloeder, 1993).


The Ittus are immigrants from west Harrerge (AsebeTeferi) area over the last twenty-five to thirty years with the good will of the Kereyous. They settled on the Kereyous’ land and shared their farming practice and permanent settlement style to the Kereyou (Ayalew, 2009). Ittus are agro-pastoralists and their attitude towards, and skills in, farming are better than that of the Kereyou have. Consequently, they are more responsible for changing the ecology of the area (Jacobs and Schloeder, 1993). They are largely engaged in the selling of charcoal and firewood to those who transport it to Addis Ababa and other towns. They first settled around Kobo, and then moved to the present location due to the establishment of ANP and other development projects in the surrounding (Jacobs and Schloeder, 1993). They belong to the same language group of the Oromo people.

The surrounding urban community

The current expansion of urban centers in other parts of Ethiopia has also been observed in small towns located around the Park. There are four urban centers nearby the Park including Awash Sebat Kilo & Sabure in Awash Fentale district and Metehara & Haro Adi in Fentale district. Most of the urban populations have their own private business since these towns are along the main highway from Addis Ababa to eastern towns. A large proportion of the urban population also works for government and non government organizations.
These towns have direct impact on the Park through their physical expansion to the Park territory or have an indirect impact such as through extraction of charcoal and fuelwood Sabore town is where charcoal from the Park is marketed. Most of charcoal makers are living in these towns. Charcoal makers living in urban centers usually made agreement with rural communities in the production of charcoal and share the income from it.

Sources of family income

Ninety-eight percent of the surveyed households reported that livestock & livestock products were the main sources of income for their family (Table 3.2). The Afar are more likely to depend on livestock and livestock products than the Kereyou-Ittu. Income from selling fuelwood, charcoal and palm leaves was reported to be the second source of family income next to livestock. Relatively, a lesser proportion (24 %) of the surveyed population were involved in crop production. About 6 % Kereyou-Ittu reported having one member of their family being employed as Park scouts or guard for the Merti sugarcane plantation. Thirty two percent of the surveyed population work as seasonal employees at the plantation during sugar cane harvesting time. A very small proportion of respondents (4 and 2%) worked as daily laborers and private business owners respectively. The Kereyou-Ittu are more likely to get involved in permanent and seasonal employment than the Ittus.


Current infrastructure development around the Park is closely associated with the national economic development strategic plan. The sub-districts in and around the Park have 20 schools including kindergarten, 15 health centers and 8 veterinary posts. Of these 11 schools, 7 health centers and 1 veterinary post of the Fentale district are found inside the Park boundary, whereas those of Awash Fentale are outside the Park boundary (Table 3.1). None of the 11 sub-districts have access to clean water. Four sub-districts are using Awash river and hand dug wells including for their livestock. The other sub-districts get potable water from Metehara town. In some cases irrigation water is also use for human and livestock consumption.

Uniqueness of ANP

Awash National Park is one of the few national Parks in the country with extraordinary biodiversity. It has rugged landscape and is located in the Great East Africa Rift Valley Zone surrounded by communities with rich indigenous tradition and culture. The geographic proximity to the capital and the rich animal diversity it hosts including more than 80 mammal species and more than 467 endemic and migratory birds has made the Park a preferred a destination for tourists. In addition to its rich biodiversity, the Park provides recreational outlets such as hiking through the rift valley. The natural hot spring swimming pools in Filwuha are unique in providing an unparalleled natural experience The Addis-Dire Dawa road and extensive road lines within the Park have made the Park accessible by vehicle, on foot or on camel and this has made it attractive to diverse travelers. Awash River is accessible at Awash River fall in the center of the Park. The museum located near to the headquarter of the Park with old and deteriorated visual and written exhibits makes the Park unforgettable. Moreover, the availability of other non-gazetted wildlife reserves and controlled hunting areas within the Awash Valley made the Park more preferable than other Parks in the country.

Other Conservation areas

There are seven conservation areas planned to serve as corridors of wild animals which may come in and going out of the boundary of the Park. These include Yangudirasa national Park, Awash West and Alledeghi wildlife reserves located north, northeast and west of the Park. They were established as buffer zone for the Park primarily for the protection of wild animals as well as grazing and cattle ranching areas of the local communities (Jacobs and Schloeder, 1993). Awash West, Afdem- Gewane and Erer-Gota controlled Hunting areas are found north of the Park extended into Afar triangle. In these areas all human activities including settlement as well as licensed hunting of certain species are allowed. Currently, all these conservation areas are not functional because of the newly established settlements and associated high demand for grazing and farm land.

Materials and Methods

Land use and land cover change

We used two sets of aerial photographs taken in two consecutive decades: 1972 (During the Imperial Regime) and 1984 (‘Derg’ regime), and a satellite SPOT image of 2006 (Present EPRDF government) to create the database (Table 3.3). We used a set of 1987 topographic maps of the study area at a scale of 1:50,000 to delineate the total study area. The fifty-two black and white aerial photographs, the satellite image and the two separate topographic sheets were obtained from the Ethiopia Mapping Authority (EMA). Global Positioning System (GPS) was used to collect ground control points. A high resolution scanner with 600 dots per inch resolution was used to scan aerial photographs maintaining the quality of images. For processing Geographic Information System (GIS) works we employed ArcMap 10 and ERDAS Imagine (version 9.2).
We generated the LULC changes for the three referenced periods of 1972, 1986 and 2006 using the black and white panchromatic aerial photographs of 1972 & 1986, a 2006 multispectral SPOT image and a 1987 topographic map of the study area. These time periods were selected primarily because of photographic and satellite data availability.
Aerial photographs were scanned at 600 dots per inch in order to make photo mosaic according to Universal Transverse Mercator projection (UTM Zone 37). The 1:50,000 topographic map was used as base map for geo-referencing the photo mosaic and the SPOT image with a similar projection. The spatial database was produced from the photographs and SPOT image using Arc Map 10 and superimposed on delineated Park boundary (Esri, 2002). Field control points were the Addis-Djibouti railway line, the main asphalt road that crosses ANP, the Park administration buildings, the Awash River and other permanent structures. These long existing physical features were important for geo-referencing the images, to understand the features of the different land cover classes, support visual interpretation of the images and to select reference areas using as training sites for supervised classification
We conducted a field visit for ground truth and classified land use and land cover types based on tone, texture and pattern of the 1972 photo image. The final six major class types were achieved through merging of similar aspects of tone, texture and pattern of the photo image. Initially, unsupervised classification was employed which later was followed by ground truth to establish the six major land use and land cover types from the satellite image.
Clear land cover types were selected after working on sites to introduce the spectral character of the major class types. To generate the same land cover types from aerial photographs, we digitized the images on-screen using ArcMap 10 on the basis of reflectance character of the cover type. After having field collected ground truth using global positioning system (GPS), ERDAS Imagine image processer (version 9.2) was applied to analyze the multi-spectral SPOT image. Similar land cover types were classified through unsupervised classification and the result was further filtered until producing more generalized and highly disintegrated reflection form of aerial photographs. Several onsite field visits were conducted to verify land cover data and gather information from the community before generating a final LULC map.


Socio-economic survey

 Household level (individuals)

A pilot survey was conducted prior to the actual data collection to identify target communities and refine our questionnaire. Based on the results from the pilot survey, we revised our semi-structured questions (for household interview) and open-ended questions (for key informants and focus group members) and identified six out of eleven sub-districts for sampling: Dudub on the eastern, Diho on the north-eastern, Sabure northern, Debti on the north-western, Illala on the western and Gelcha on the eastern side of the Park. The selection of these sub-districts was to increase diversity of representation with regard to the communities’ level of dependency on Park resources as determined in pilot survey. Because of the implications of geographical proximity with regard to impact, our sampling was restricted to communities located within one kilometer distance from the Park boundary. Of the total 32 pastoralist/agro-pastoralist villages, we selected 20 villages through a multistage cluster sampling design (Robinson, 2002). We employed three levels of cluster: sub-districts within districts, residence time and farming life style. From these we selected 210 respondents which represnts 10.5 % of the total household population (135 agro-pastoralists and 75 pastoralists) through stratified random sampling.
The number of pastoralist respondents was fewer than agro-pastoralists due to the scattered population distribution of pastoralists over a larger area. The difference in gender in our sample was not avoidable (only 15% of our respondents were female) because of cultural and practical reasons. The most senior member of each visited household present at the time of the visit was considered head of the household and were asked for permission to conduct the interview. Both male and female respondents were happy and willing to participate.

Key informants

A total of twelve key informants, four from each cluster groups of stakeholders such as the ‘authority’ (EWCA, Oromia Region Natural Resources Office, Fentale Woreda Culture and Tourism Office and ANP warden), the ‘networking’ (CARE Ethiopia, Ethiopian Tourism Commission Office, Awash Falls Lodge and Kereyou Lodge) and the ‘local’ cluster group (pastoralists and agro-pastoralists) were selected using a purposive random sampling technique and about a two-hours interview was conducted with each informant. The knowledge individuals demonstrated about the Park during the pilot survey was taken into consideration in selecting key informants. We assessed perceptions of sustainable resource management and structural changes in the management system, priorities and motivations, as well as challenges and requirements of the management of resources in the Park before and after decentralisation (pre-1995 and post-1995).

Focus Group Discussions

A combination of focus group discussions and individual and in-depth interviews are the most frequently used methods in social sciences research (Morgan, 1996). Also these methods are shown to be essential to explore opinions and experiences of the group members as whole and personal experiences of individuals over time (Duncan and Morgan, 1994; Morgan, 1996). We used focus group discussions used to explore perception and experience of respondents on particular issues (Barker and Rich, 1992). A total of six focus group discussions were conducted (one per sampled community) in the six sub-districts, namely Gelcha, Illala, Debti, (in the Oromia side) and Sabure, Diho and Dudub (in the Afar side). Each group included six members: elders, middle aged individuals, and youth that have been living for more than 25 years. A total of 36 local individuals were selected based on the distance of their residence from the Park and their overall knowledge of the area which was determined through our prior contact with local leaders.

Data collection

We used semi-structured and open-ended questionnaires as the main instrument to collect socio-economic data from target population. Both types of questionnaires were prepared fist in English and then were translated to local languages (Afar and Oromifa) to ensure an understanding by respondents. The translated questionnaires were pre-tested during the pilot survey period to refine our questionnaire. Both forms of questionnaires were presented to household individuals, key informants and focus group discussion.
We collected data during the period of January and May 2011 and revisited the sites for updates in January 2013. The researcher was assisted by two Park employees who were working as a zoologist and botanist in the Park. They were familiar with the research site and spoke both local languages. The researcher and the two assistants discussed the objectives of the study, the conceptual and theoretical framework. We developed a common conceptual understanding of some of the vague conservation terminologies included in semi-structured questionnaires. In addition we agreed that the data was to be collected with full cooperation and free will of respondents. All data collectors well trained and agreed to respect all respondents through applying enumerators’ conduct and ethics in the field. Leaders of the six sub-districts were also informed about the objective of the study and they were willing to inform the local people about the importance of the study. Leaders assisted us in some schedule arranging a meeting between the interviewer and interviewees. The average interview with informants lasted two hours and interview with environmental conservationists and Park warden lasted longer. All participants were willing to be recorded onto a hand-held recorder.

Primary data sources

Semi-structured questionnaire

Semi-structured interviews are used to assess communities’ perception towards biodiversity conservation in private and government owned national Parks (Makindi, 2010) and to assess the attitudes of people towards deforestation (Pham and Rambo, 2003).
We used semi-structured interviews to identify and analyze the major driving forces for the observed LULC changes. Pastoralists and agro-pastoralists were also specifically asked to describe the consequences of the LULC changes on use and management of resources in the National Park. The perception of local communities towards the observed LULC changes during the Imperial period (before 1974), the ‘Derg’ regime (1974 to 1991) and the current government (from 1991 to the present) was investigated using the semi-structured interview.
The semi-structured interview was also presented to household level respondents to assess their perception towards the current status of the Park, causes of resource based conflicts, impact of policy issues towards sustainable conservation and gaps of environmental policy. We also used the household level interviews to evaluate the views and perceptions of local respondents towards issues related to their own participation in conservation activities, current and future existence of the Park, towards the authority managing the Park, their own conceptual understanding of conservation terminologies and attitude towards tourists.

Table of Contents
List of Table
List of Figures
List of Appendences
List of Abbreviations
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Objectives of the Study
1.3 Research Questions
1.4 Significance of the Study
1.5 Rationale
CHAPTER TWO  Theoretical Context and Understanding
2.1 Theoretical Context
CHAPTER THREE  Methodology
3.1 Introduction
3.2 The study area
3.5 Materials and Methods
3.6 Data collection
3.7 Analyses of Land use land cover changes
4.1 Result and Discussion
4.2 Conclusion
5.1 Results and discussion
5.2 Conclusion
6.1 Result and discussion
6.2 Conclusion
CHAPTER SEVEN  Summary and Recommendation
7.1 Summary
7.2 Recommendation

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