Sustainable Development of the Gambella and Rift Valley Landscapes

Since its establishment in 2006, the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network (HoA-REC&N) has been working on environmental conservation, natural resource management and sustainable development options within the Horn of Africa Region.  Designing four programmes under its wing, HoA-REC&N has undertaken several projects in different parts of the country. One of these projects is the the Gambella and Rift Valley Landscapes Project.

Over the four- project-implementation years, HoA-REC&N made its interventions under five thematic areas: 1) Conservation and Ecosystem-based Adaptation, 2) Landscape Governance and Development, 3) Education for Sustainable Development, 4) Sustainable Energy, and 5) Ecosystem-Compatible Agriculture and Livelihood Development. Implemented activities were undertaken with a holistic landscape concept, and the thematic areas supported the different components of the landscape.

In the Central Rift Valley (CRV) Landscape, various interventions were largely made within the Ziway-Langano-Abijatta Lakes Basin, which covers the largest part of the landscape. The Gambella-Omo Landscape, on the other hand, is connected with wildlife and people, but divided by political and watershed boundaries; therefore, it is essentially divided into two landscapes.  In Gambella Landscape, a focus was given to the creation of an Integrated Landuse Development Plan (ILDP),whereas in Omo Landscape, which is located within the boundary of Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR), the focus was  managing rangeland and improving the livelihood of people in the landscape.

All activities in both landscapes were aimed at contributing to the sustainable development and management of the Gambella and CRV landscapes; thereby mitigating conflict and enhancing food security. They had also the following specific objectives:
1)    To guide agricultural investments and development in the selected landscapes through holistic, participatory and integrated land use planning;
2)    To improve environmental governance in the selected landscapes;
3)    To sustainably diversify and enhance the livelihood base in selected landscapes;
4)    To maintain or restore the resilience functions of key ecosystems within selected landscapes.

In some instances, the Centre was the direct implementer of project activities, but in most cases it played a supporting role, partnering with network members or organisations that directly worked with local community and government. HoA-REC&N opted to work primarily with network members. However, there were times when no network member was operational in the target landscape, or when the necessary expertise was lacking. In such cases, the Centre looked for partner organisations outside the landscape. In the absence of such partners, HoA-REC&N became the primary implementer.

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