Farmers showing a sample of the harvest from the improved potato variety that was distributed to them by the project
ADHENO Integrated Rural Development Association has been implementing Integrated Environmental Rehabilitation and Livelihood Improvement Projects in Baso Na Worena Woreda, Amhara Region, Ethiopia.   The main goal is to improve livelihoods of the rural communities through environmental rehabilitation and improving agricultural production. The projects mainly target the North Shewa zone of Amhara region in Ethiopia.   Tested solutions, and lessons learned and documented during the project implementation are presented for lesson dissemination and future programing.
Basona Worena is one of the Woredas in the Amhara region; located in the eastern edge of the Ethiopian highlands in the North Showa Zone. Its altitude ranges from 1300–3,700 MASL and is largely mountainous with escarpments covered predominantly with reddish-brown soil. The Woreda receives monomodal rain whereas some parts receive bimodal rainfall. Climatologically, there are four zones i.e. Wurch 2%, highland 50%, midland 46% and lowland 2%.

The livelihoods of Smallholder farmers in the target kebeles mainly depend on crop cultivation and domestic animal rearing. Most households’ energy supply depends on biomass such as fuel wood, charcoal, farming residues and dung. Communities are practicing unwise use of natural resources for their livelihoods that are largely at risk to detrimental impacts of climate change.

In target Kebeles, spring crop production (“Belg” season) has been completely stopped for 30 years due to climate change impacts. As a result, communities have been pushed to live below the poverty line; whatever efforts they have exerted to produce sufficient crop production in the winter (June – August), their productivity remained low because the soil-type of the area is not compatible to summer season production. The excessive rainfall creates swampy and muddy landscape which does not allow crop production, thus there is no productive agricultural activity in the winter season.

Recurrent drought and locust infestation are additional challenges that affected agriculture production in the project area. The drought situation worsened by climate change impacts coupled with natural resource degradation further reduced the small holder farmers' agricultural yield.

Land degradation and soil infertility has also been impacting agricultural productivity by reducing crop production and causing considerable social and economic losses. Lack of alternative means of livelihood and full dependency on traditional farming that doesn’t cover house holds' basic requirements is also a major development challenge of the project area. Climate reliability has been deteriorating over time due to deforestation and cutting of trees for arable land, firewood, charcoal and construction. This has resulted in environmental degradation, food insecurity and extreme poverty in various forms.

The Interventions:

ADHENO Integrated Rural Development Association - a member NGO of the Ethiopia Nile Discourse Forum has been implementing an Integrated Environmental Rehabilitation and Livelihoods Improvement Project in Baso Na Worena Woreda since the year 2020 with generous support from All We Can and Dir Biaber. The project's overall goal is to improve the livelihoods of the rural communities through environmental rehabilitation and improving agricultural production. The project targeted a total of 6,423 direct beneficiaries of which 2,520 are females and about 32,150 indirect beneficiaries live within Woynye, Goshebado, Metkorya, Moy Amanguilt, and Muti Cherkos kebeles of Baso Na Worena Woreda, in North Shewa zone of Amhara region.

Community Based Organizations are important entry points to targeted communities. With regards to partnership, special emphasis is given to “Idir” (an informal social group organized to deal with social issues). ADHENO has thus provided technical and material support to one “Idir” operating in the area. Members of this “Idir” are now active partners of the project specifically on promoting the theme of the project; "Propagating the cultural heritage and biodiversity conservation". They play key role in mobilizing the community for annual tree planting, protecting area closures, as well as planting local Variety of seeds, fruits and vegetables, and contribute the incentives from their participation in Tree Gudifecha towards their institutional strength.

One of the tree nurseries that were established and distribution of tree seedlings to the community for planting
Distribution of mainly native tree seedlings from the established tree nurseries.
The organization came up with an innovative approach called Tree “Gudifecha” to effectively address land degradation. This involved establishing tree nursery sites, tree planting, and forest development and management. Each year, a significant number of tree seedlings were raised and planted in designated closed areas. Farmers have been planting both indigenous and exotic trees and these trees are currently restoring the degraded land - changing it into forest area.

The program facilitated training on natural resource management, supported farmers with farm tools, and mobilized the community to do physical and biological structures which were constructed on degraded farm land. The program supported the rehabilitation of hundreds of hectares of degraded land and made it productive. The program supported the biodiversity and indigenous forest conservation by providing material and technical assistance to target communities and local churches. As a result, vegetation coverage in the project area has tremendously increased.

For such impactful and highly sustainable projects, ADHENO received an award from H.E. Girma Wolde-Giorgis (the former President of Ethiopia) as a ‘Green Hero’ for its innovative approach of Tree Gudifecha concept; a new approach that encourages and motivates farmers to plant and care for trees much like they would to an adopted child. The organization has demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach by closely working with various communities in North Shewa in planting and caring for hundreds of thousands of indigenous trees, resulting in the visible greening of the landscape and recovery of barren lands.
The project has forged close partnership with the community in merging indigenous local traditional approaches to resource management with modern concepts of conservation and sound agro-economic principles. In addition, the project builds on over a thousand years of local Christian tradition of reverence for trees around churches through focused efforts aimed at resuscitating native species in specially designated area enclosures around churches. Given the alarming rate of deforestation and desertification in Ethiopia, and the associated falling of agricultural yields, Gudifetcha of Trees is especially critical in ensuring that the land recovers some of its productivity.

The program leverages traditional practices of planting trees around church compounds and closely works with community groups not only to rehabilitate their environment but also address their pressing economic needs in a way that preserves their culture, tradition, and environment. This clearly indicates that the organization was able to build credible partnerships with local the communities and line government offices without whose approval, none of these projects could be implemented.

The project gives emphasis to gender equality and women economic empowerment. Women were trained on business skills and organized into Women Self-Help Groups which resulted in increased communication, social skills, and saving and credit practices among women. The women received support to start their own businesses that that generate additional income.

The veterinary service centre that the project established; In-set - Artificial Insemination service in progress
The veterinary veterinary breeding and treatment center established by the project; In-set, A livestock support
personnel administers AI to a cow.
To address food insecurity, the program has given different capacity building training on livestock & poultry management, and improved potato and other horticulture production. It has also provided improved breeds of heifers; improved potato and cereal seeds; and improved chicken breeds among others.

As a result of intensive training and experience sharing events, Artificial Insemination (AI) services were found to be the most effective breeding process. To this end, a state-of-the-art veterinary breeding and treatment center - the first of its kind in that community, has been constructed and is already in operation.
In 2021 and 2022, 23 improved breeds of heifers were distributed to economically deprived farmers with a cost-sharing scheme where farmers contributed 5% of the total price of a heifer. These heifers have become the first of their kind in the area and have become a symbol of hope and inspiration for the community. Some of the heifers have given birth and farmers are getting sufficient milk production which serves for both household consumption and sales.

Another successful activity in the target kebeles is the provision of improved potato seeds to farmers. Providing improved potato seeds to farmers in the project implementation area was found very essential in ensuring food security. It was realized that this improved potato breed starts giving production in the winter season which is the most food-insecure season of the year by which most households would have run out of food stocks.

Milestones, observations and Lessons Learned:

  • The innovative approach called Tree “Gudifecha” motivated the communities to plant and care for indigenous trees. The approach also supported creating awareness on the benefits of conserving indigenous forests and ownership of the resources for environmental rehabilitation.
  • ADHENO has strong partnership with local churches in promoting indigenous forest conservation and mobilizing the community for the cause.
  • The organization undertakes local resource mobilization by closely working with the local churches in supporting its development programs that provides benefits for the local community. 
  • Environmental rehabilitation is a long term project and challenging for the community. For poor communities like the ones ADHENO is operating in, it is essential to include income generating activities with rehabilitation of natural resources.
  • Through training and experience-sharing events on modern animal husbandry, it has been possible to increase the consciousness of the society and change the traditional and ineffective breeding methods in the community.
  • Being focused on specific areas of intervention and geographic locations helped to implement various projects at a time with limited budget and limited human capital.
  • ADHENO works closely with line government offices and utilizes available resources such as improved seeds, motorcycles and available expertise.
  • Moreover, provision of intensive training and undertaking extensive experience sharing events helps to make project activities effective during implementation. They also contribute to the ease of the work by half.
  • The last but not least lesson learnt is commitment and collaboration of staff members which helps to implement projects successfully.
  • The vision and the values that founders set during the establishment of the organization played a significant role in sustaining it for years. Different effective and efficient projects were implemented with limited budgets and a few human resource.

ADHENO Integrated Rural Development Association is an Ethiopian grassroots Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) established in 2002 G.C. ADHENO is a member of NBD - subscribing through the Ethiopian Nile Discourse Forum. The organisation envisions healthy, socially and economically empowered, and self-sufficient rural people with sustained livelihoods. Since its establishment, ADHENO has developed and successfully implemented more than four (4) strategic plans with thematic areas: integrated environmental rehabilitation, biodiversity, education, WASH, and economic empowerment in different communities of Basso Na Worena District.
Contact:  Mr. Yonathan Fikre (Executive Director), Tel:  +251116635080, E-mail:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Michael John Hartley,
National Technical Support Expert - Ethiopia NDF

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