Watershed management to counter farming systems decline: toward a demand-driven, systems-oriented research agenda

Research reports and studies
June 2005
Laura A. German, Berhane Kidane and Kindu Mekonnen

Most formal research in support of agricultural development has focused on the alleviation of farm-level productivity constraints, with problem diagnosis often occurring through a single disciplinary lens. There is a strong push within national and international arenas to move toward broader units of analysis and intervention, including the landscape, catchment and watershed. However, there is a current imbalance in the strong momentum behind this shift and the paucity of methodological guidelines for operationalising these new approaches within research and development (R&D) circles. This paper outlines an approach for grounding watershed management in local incentives for improved natural resource management (NRM) beyond the farm level, addressing component-specific contributions to landscape degradation, and bringing formal research contributions to bear on a demand-driven NRM agenda. Following a description of a methodology used to diagnose problems at landscape or watershed level, a case study from the highlands of central Ethiopia is presented to illustrate the application of the approach within agroforestry. The case study provides a concrete example of how to move from participatory problem diagnosis to a modified R&D agenda at the landscape level.

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