Wichi Wetland, Ethiopia

Challenges · Biodiversity · Landscape Restoration · Water

Landscape Profile

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Wichi Wetland, Ethiopia

Approximate size (hectares)





Tropical Wet & Dry

Production Systems

Coffee, Honey, Livestock, Maize


The Wichi Wetland is located in Oromia National Regional State Zone, Ilu Aba Bora Administration Zone in Metu Woreda. The landscape crosses five Kebeles (Ale Buya, Burusa, Tulube, Boto, and Adele Bise). It is characterized with mixed crop-livestock and silvi-culture farming. Maize, coffee, livestock and honey are major livelihood sources. The center of focus of integrated watershed/landscape management in the Wichi landscape is protecting the wetland ecosystem from overgrazing, depletion of water, and loss of biodiversity.


Voices From The Field

I am a rural development professional working as a head of the Woreda Irrigation Development Authority in the Mettu woreda of Ilubabor Zone. I have worked as a developmental agent, developmental agent supervisor, and agricultural extension service process owner in a governmental organization and also served as a natural resources specialist in the Ethio-Wetlands and Natural Resources Association for around five years where I was involved on the implementation of Wichi wetland watershed project. I pursued a MSc in rural development and my research was on a miracle grass called vetiver, used for mitigating lots of problems in natural resource degradation and climate change. I have over one decade of experience on different aspects of rural development.

Getahun Legesse Mettu Woreda Irrigation Development Authority

Major Successes


Capacity Development and Incentive Mechanisms

The main reason behind the success of Wichi watershed and wetland management was the intensive capacity development and incentive mechanisms through the awareness creation, training, and amount of input provided to the community, leaders and experts. One example to show the understanding of ILM is that, previously wetlands were considered as wastelands and there were programs to drain and convert these lands into cultivated land. Today, wetlands are considered as an important resource in the area by farmers, experts and administrators.


Vetiver grass

Another success was the Introduction of Vetiver grass (a multi purpose grass) for soil and water conservation. Vetiver hedgerow planting is a way to rehabilitate and control soil erosion. Between 2005 and 2007, 820 kilometers of Fanya juu, 70.80 kms of soil bund, 4.65 kilometers of waterway, and 25.5 kilometers of cut‐off drain were constructed within Wichi Micro Watershed over 1018 hectares. To further address problems, EWNRA established two nursery sites in the micro watershed and raised more than 2,000,000 Vetiver tillers which have been distributed and planted. Vetiver is also a strategy for diversifying income sources, as producers sell the grass and clumps. Stakeholders are now exploring additional market linkages for Vetiver.

Working Together

To achieve wetland ecosystem restoration, first the understanding of integration of different ecosystem services (upstream and downstream) and collaboration of actors was necessary. When the Wichi Integrated Wetland-Watershed Management Project was initiated by the Ethiopian Wetland and Natural Resources Association (EWNRA) in 2005, it started with the understanding of integration of different sectors, actors and issues. It aimed to address environment, livelihood, health and energy objectives. It began with stakeholders’ dialogue to bring all the concerned to understand the problem and initiate a solution. Participatory planning, setting monitoring rules, embarking actions of soil conservation (upland terracing, Vetiver planting, establishing woodlots, protecting wetland etc.), and livelihood improvement activities (potable water, energy saving stoves, saving & credit, family planning and sanitation) were set initially.

Participatory and sectoral collaborations were initiated by establishing a legitimate watershed committee at the Kebele level and formulating community agreed bylaws to protect wetlands from grazing and over-utilization. In addition, each watershed committee of individual Kebeles monitored conservation activities across Kebeles through periodic meeting and reporting. Woreda administration and experts also take part during monitoring activities. The Saving and Credit associations and also the water supply and sanitation and hygiene (WASH) committee are some of the other strong institutions that enhance participation and collaboration of actors.

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