Climate change, vulnerability and adaptation

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Study area description

The country has twelve major river basins. These are: the upper Blue Nile, Awash, Ayisha, Baro Akobo, Denakil, Genale Dawa, Mereb Gash, Ogaden, Omo Gibe, Rift Valley, Tekeze and Wabi Shebe river basins. Upper Blue Nile River Basin in one hand is the most proxy and where the researcher had sufficient acquentance in the area. On the other hand, it is one of the basins with most diversified interms of agro climate and altitude and where the highest altitude in the country is located. The Upper Blue Nile/”Abbay” basin is situated in the north-central and western parts of the country. It forms generally a trapezoidal shape that extends for about 400 kms from north to south and about 550 kms from east to west (Figure 1). It is one of the most important river basins in Ethiopia (World Bank, 2010). It covers an area of about 199 812 square kilometers (km2), which is 20% of the country’s land mass that accommodates 25% of the population, 40% of the nation’s agricultural products, most of the hydropower, including the Ethiopian renaissance dam and other significant portions of irrigation potential of the country (World Bank, 2010).
The specific study site, Bir-Temicha watershed with an area of 7, 256 km2, is located within the Upper Blue Nile Basin (UBNB). It lies between 37P 264745.75 to 383813.5 metres east and 1132986.5 to 1235341.5 metres north or between 10047’05” to 10058’38”N latitude and 37020’40” to 37040’19” E longitude. comprising two major rivers: Bir and Temicha. With all their tributaries, it drains the watershed area and feeds the Upper Blue Nile. The watershed in general includes seven districts (hereafter called ‘woredas’) and two administrative zones. Machakel and Sinan woredaa were from East Gojjam and Denbecha, Degadamot, Quarit, Sekella and Bure woredas were from West Gojjam administrative zones. With in Bir Temicha watershed four sample micro watersheds were selected for specific investigation. These were Boko tabo; Yesheret, Dengayber and Abazazj site with an area of 5192, 2995, 1939 and 3170 ha respectively (Figure 16).
The road from Addis Ababa to Bahirdar cross the study area at the middle of the watershed and covers an overall width around 90km from east to west. Vertically, the watershed is 70 km in length from north to south.
Topographically, over a distance of about 70 km, the elevation extends upward from 1000 metres above sea level (masl) in the south, to 4050 masl in the northern side. The study area comprises of mountainous terrain in the extreme north eastern and southern reaches. In general, a mountain chain is located in the upper part and a hilly plain undulates in the middle. Further down towards the south a rolling plain land forms with a dissected mountain and escarpments situated around the outlet.
From the researcher finding and observation, a strong altitudinal variation makes for strapping local contrasts in precipitation and climate variation. Rainfall intensity in the middle and upper part of the watersheds is characteristically intense and erosive. The average annual rainfall record ranges from 1106 mm/year in the lower altitude to 1700 mm/year in the upper region. The overall temperature distribution ranges from 8-14oC and 17-30oC mean daily minimum and maximum temperature respectively. The area generally is a uni-modal type where the summer season prevails with dominant rainfall distribution. The rainfall regime is a uni-modal type that extends mainly from May to September with a sharp break in the beginning of June and the end of August.
The natural vegetation of the study area is categorised into four depending on the ACZ where they fall. Generally, there is hilly ragged terrain in the lower part of the watershed area with broad leaved, woody vegetation. It mainly comprises Myrsine africana, Jasminum grandidlorum, Dodonia angustifoia, Pterolobium stellatum, Cadia perpurea, Calpurnia aurea, Rhus natalensis and Diospyros abyssinica. The ground layer of the vegetation unit is generally marked by dense growth of herbs dominantly with Hypoestus forskalei. Further up, at the middle of the watershed, land forms with plain to undulated plateau are dominated with more crop cover with minor similar types of scattered broad leaved forest and bushes. The extreme upper Dega ACZ is a zone of mixed type of conifer and broad leaved vegetation appeared rarely with an intense cultivated crop cover dominated. The upper most part is covered with afro alpine grass vegetation like Euryops antinorii which is the dominant species with wide distribution. Woody vegetation types that are rarely found are Erica hypericum, Erica arborea and Lobelia rhynchopetalum.
Geology and soil
Geologically, the UBNB in general, including the study area, fits into the Trapp series of tertiary volcanic eruptions. It is a classic volcanic landscape, which was cut by river stream lines, resulting in the current diversity of landforms. The geology is composed of quaternary basalts and alluviums. The soils are dominated by clays and ‘clayey’ loams (BECOM, 1999). The soil units covering the majority of the watershed are predominantly Nitosols, Eutric Vertisols, Eutric Cambisols, Vertic Cambisols, and Eutric Leptosols. However, Nitosols are the dominant soil type on undulating to relatively steeper slopes. As a result of degradation, the soils on steep slopes appear to have been downgraded to Regosols and Cambisols (Bekele et al., 2011); Awlachew et al., 2009). According to these authors, apparently, these soils have various productivity limiting characteristics such as acidity, depth and permeability (particularly in Dega and Wourch ACZ).

Theoretical framework

Communal land resources are potentially subject to congestion, depletion, or degradation, i.e. using it in a way which pushes it beyond the limits of sustainable yields (Blomquist and Ostrom, 1995). Stevenson (2011) pointed out that a communal resource property study was first undertaken by an international association for the study of communal property (IASCP) in the late 1980s. However, the study of communal resource property originates back to the publication in 1968 written by G. Hardin’es: The theory of the failure of the commons or communal property. Hardin’s theory expressed the view that a communal resource exploited by rational economic agents is bound to disappear because of over-exploitation (Ostrom, 1985; Hardin, 1968).
Critics of Hardin’s article have demonstrated that the failure is not due to the communal nature of the resources but to the fact that there is free access. For this, a number of insights were presented to show that a community can manage a communal resource sustainably. Several authors, such as Ostrom (1994 and 1999) and Berkes et al. (2010) disagree with Hardin’s view that successful collective action is impossible. They presented the principles of an institutional approach based on formal or informal regulatory mechanisms that govern the viability of ecosystems.
Meanwhile, different solutions have subsequently been put forward to solve the problem of managing the access to communal resources, i.e. to control it by using economic or administrative management tools (Stevenson, 2011). Research is now focusing on how the concept of co-management is executed between the government and the community (Cay and Jones, 2012). Hence, academics and policymakers are calling out for more research to clarify the issues and impacts on communal land management approaches, practices and associated policy implementations (Gruber, 2010).
On the other hand, climate change is one of the major threats facing the Ethiopian high lands that it is now seen as a pressing challenge to sustainable climate resilience and development. Ethiopia comprises extensive high land as well as drylands, unpredictable patterns of rainfall and lack of economic capacity to anticipate the adverse effects of climate change have a negative impact on environmental sustainability and that of livelihoods (IPCC, 2011). Accordingly, the the attempt on climate change adaptationppractices have been given little attention and rehabilitation and conservation of degraded communal landscapes is at infant stage (Yeraswork, 2011).
Many rural households depend directly on common resources for their livelihood. Communal resources sustain the wellbeing of peasant societies and are especially useful for marginalized societies such as pastoralists the land less and for women who are taking animal to graze and collecting firewood out of common forests (Yeraswork, 2011). By mentioning many research findings, James, (2011) also proves that rural poor are heavily dependent on communal resources for their livelihood. This author added that these communal resources are used as sources of food, fuel wood, and fodder is highly significant in Ethiopia. Therefore, its availability interms of adequacy and quality, strength of its resilience to withstand climate change and sustainability of these communal land resources measure the wellbeing of rural communities (IPCC, 2011). To attain these all, appropriate policy setting and application, effective and efficient communal land management institutional set up and sustainable CLM practices has to be in place.
Therefore, the study focused to address the problem through analysing communal land management and use practices and policies in the context of sustainability and climate resilience. In particular, this study attempted to work out on problems pertinent with the natural pressure on how climate variability and how communities practiced to adaptat the change/variability. On the otherhand, the study also tried to answer the extent of human induced pressure and abuse over communal land in both communal grazing and forest resources. The research also sees problems related wth institutional sustainability practices and policy to manage communal lands.
As seen in the conceptual framework (Figure 2) below, vertically it shows what are the different factors affecting the sustainability and climate resilience of communal land use and management practices (research Problem area), what sort of research questions should be answerd by indicating the necessary action area for this research. Horizontally for each factors of research problem, it shows the type of research questions and action areas that helped to analyse research question inorder to get the over all research out put (Figure 2).

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Validity and reliability of measuring instruments

Validity and reliability

Measuring validity and reliability was taken as an important procedure. To do this, a standardised questionnaire was prepared and tested during the piloting phase. A one day orientation to assistant enumerators was given before extensive field data collection was conducted.
Moreover, a pre-test questionnaire was given before conducting the actual study. The questionnaire was pre-tested with 12 interviewees in the selected study site (three in each of the selected ACZs). During the pre-test, the reliability and validity of the questionnaire were checked to know the time it took to fill out the questionnaires and also to check the flow and sequencing of questions. In addition, after the pre-test, a correlation test was calculated in order to have a comparison of measurements at two points in time and to check its reliability. Having this in mind, following Marija and Norusis (2012), Kappa value (Observed Agreement – Expected Agreement due to Chance) was calculated. Then, the value for assessment was found (0.87). This value was considered as adequate reliability. Notes were taken where the respondents found the questions obscure, repetitive or irritating. The questionnaire then was revised accordingly. Moreover, during the HH survey, KII and GD, effort was made to make respondants actively involved during survey question, KII and GD to clarify some of the questions and thereby avoiding/minimising their bias in understanding the idea of the survey.
Taking care of determining the sample size was also the other important point that was considered in maintaining validity. To do this, following Nayak, (2010) empirical formula and sample size calculater G /power soft ware was used to determine appropriate sample size as described under classification of respondents.


One important point considered in enhancing replicability is triangulating the findings with multiple studies. Following Yin and Robert (2010), to substantiate the findings, a necessary comparison and cross checking mechanism with other similar studies was considered with appropriate citation. The other procedure used was employing a random sampling technique in selecting one major watershed among the fifteen within the upper Nile basin. Similarly, in selecting community household respondents, the stratified random sampling technique was also used. On top of this, to enhance replicability, sample areas were categorised and stratified in different agro climatic zone settings. This kept the sample sites and HH respondents as heterogeneous samples that represented different agro climatic zones and different community groups for proper generalisation.


The basic approach and method for conducting this study was mainly an exploratory survey for chapters 4, 6 and 7. For chapter 5 both explorative and measurements on fuel biomass consumption were used. Besides, a review and analysis of the existing relevant documents on communal land use and management (CLUM), institutional sustainability and climate change resilience and related ones was also conducted.
Moreover, the study used both quantitative and qualitative methods. A household (HH) survey, a key informant interview (KII) and Group discussions (GD) were employed as instruments. A questionnaire was designed with structured and semi- structured type of questions. For the structured questions, a likert scale, yes-no check list and multiple choices were used. For GD and KII, open ended and semi-structured questions were formulated and conducted.

Population and sampling procedures

To determine the study sites, a systematic sampling approach was used. First the Upper Blue Nile Basin (UBNB) was categorised into 15 bigger watersheds. Each watershed was given a number from 1 to 15. Then, one watershed was selected through random sampling technique using the lottery method. This selected watershed was found within the eastern and western Gojjam Administrative Zone called Bir-Temicha watershed. After selection of the watershed, the total area was categorised in to four Agro Climatic Zones (ACZ) settings as mentioned in the scop of the study (P 33).
Then, from Google Earth, the availability of communal grazing land (CGL) and communal forest lands (CFL) was assessed and mapped. Sorting out of communal lands was also supported with a field reconnaissance visit. After that, systematic sampling was used to choose a sample study micro watershed (MW) site that consisted of one CFL and one CGL site in each of the four ACZ setting. The systematic choice in selecting specific study sites depends upon factors like: its conveniences in terms of geographical location, its accessibility, availability and closeness of CGL and CFL sites. Based on these, (1 CGL + 1 CFL) in each micro watershed per ACZ were selected per District (here after called Woreda) as a sample study site.
These selected Woredas were: Bure, Jabitehinan and Dega damot Woreda from West Gojjam Administrative Zone and Sinan Woreda from East Gojjam Administrative zone. In these four Woredas, those four micro watersheds were correspondingly nominated representing different ACZ setting. One was Bokotabo area (Bure Woreda) located on 1550 ± 100 meter above sea level(masl) representing warm semi-arid ACZ traditionally called “Kola”. The second was Yesheret area (Jabitehinan Woreda) situated between 2050 ± 250 masl representing cool sub-humid and locally termed as “Weyna Dega”ACZ . The third one was Dengay ber silasse area (Degadamot Woreda) found between 2750 ± 450 masl representing a cool and humid which, traditionally called “Dega” ACZ and the forth one was Abazazj area ( Sinan Woreda) located at 3500 ± 200 masl representing very cool/ alpine vicinity which, is known traditionally as “Wourch” ACZ ( MoA, 2008).
After identifying these four micro watersheds (MWS), the selected communal forest and grazing land use (CLU) types were delineated. This made the total number of sample study sites to be four CGL and four CFL. Then, “Kebele” administrations (KA) that are fully using the selected CGL and CFL resources in those four study sites were considered as sample Kebele administration units.

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Classification of respondents

Community household selection

Community members who have a stake in the selected CLU types were considered as the sample population. Based on this, 290, 445, 440 and 335 HH from Kolla, Woyina Dega, Dega and Wourch ACZ were found as total population size respectively of each ACZ. Based on this, the total population who had a stake with the identified communal land resource in the four ACZ settings of the selected KA was found to be 1510 HH.
Factors like confidence interval (P) and level of confidence were determined. Hence, 95% was taken as the confidence level while the confidence interval (limit of error) was taken as a maximum of + 4 of 50%. Then, based on the total population size found in the study area, a sample size was established using Sample Size Calculator/G Power software (Nayak, 2010). Then, using the above sample size calculator, the number of sample HH respondants in Kolla, Woyina dega, Dega and Wourch ACz were determined to be 39, 89, 88 and 67 respectively. Based on this, the total sample size for the HH survey was found to be 302 (Table 1). Then, the above sample respondents were then randomly selected and taken as individual community household (CHH) respondents (Figure 3).
In each ACZ, these CHH samples were recorded per their educational status, economical level and sex. Their education level was stratified into two: Illiterate (who cannot read and write), and those who are grade 4 and above. Their economic status was categorised by themselves as poor referring to those HH with one or no ox, medium, if they had two oxen and rich with three and above oxen.
Based on this classification, 90 sample CHHs were found > grade 4 while the remaining 212 were illiterate. In terms of economic category, 82 were identified as poor, 184 as medium and the remaining 36 were identified as rich. Of all HH respondents, 52 or 20% of total respondents were found to be female householders (FHH). The number of respondents in each strata is presented in Table 1 below.

Community focus group (FG) and key informant (KI)

Two community FGs were formed in each ACZ. In total, there were eight FGs conducted for a closer discussion. Group members were selected systematically and each group had 6-8 members. Members of the group were comprised of elders, youths, females, and Kebele Administration (KA) executive members. KI were also selected systematically from known knowledgeable elders (male + females), KA executive committee and communal land administration committee members. 12 key informants were selected in each site/ACZ. Of these, two were female KI. This made the number of KI to be 48, of which eight were female.

1.1 Background
1.2 Statement of the problem
1.3 The rational/significance of the study
1.4 Aim and objectives of the research
1.5 Basic assumptions and research questions
1.6 Structure of the thesis
1.7 Definition of terms
1.8 The scope of the study
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Climate change, vulnerability and adaptation
2.3 Communal land use change and its impact on environmental degradation
2.4 Indegenious communal land resource management and institutional practices
2.5. Indegenious communal land management institutions and policy
2.6 Reviewing Ethiopian land tenure, policy and legislation historical setiing
2.7 Federal and Amhara National Regional State land administration and use legislative setting
2.8 Conclusion
3.1 Study area description
3.2 Theoretical framework
3.3 Validity and reliability of measuring instruments
3.4 Approach
3.5 Population and sampling procedures
3.6 Classification of respondents
3.7 Data collection methods
3.8 Data analysis techniques
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Results and discussion
4.3 Conclusion
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Results and discussion
5.3 Conclusion
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Results and discussion
6.3. Conclusion
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Results and discussion
7.3 Conclusion
8.1 Introduction
8.2 Summary of results
8.3 General conclusion
8.4 Recommendations

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