Debre Yakob Learning Watershed, Ethiopia

Challenges · Biodiversity · Landscape Restoration · Water

Landscape Profile

This profile was submitted by a landscape leader closely involved with its management. Submit a profile of your own landscape.

Debre Yakob Learning Watershed, Ethiopia

Approximate size (hectares)





Tropical Wet & Dry

Production Systems

Barley, Maize, Teff, Wheat


The Debre Yakob Learning Watershed is located in the northwestern Ethiopian Highlands within the Lake Tan Basin. It has a mild temperature (average 21° C), about 1300 mm annual rainfall and is located between 2074 to 2236 meters above sea level. The major crops grown in the area are teff, maize, wheat and barley. Livestock is another main component of the farming system. Debre Yakob is a part of the Water and Land Resource Centre’s Learning Watershed network.

Voices From The Field

I am an agricultural engineer specialized on natural resources management, landscape modelling and land degradation. I initiated this landscape approach to establish a live learning platform that will be used to teach land users, extension agents, researchers and policy makers on how integrated watershed management can be done by involving key actors and how the right technology with the right mix and approach can change a landscape quickly. We are working to develop an up- and out-scaling strategy based on the lessons and systems created in these learning watersheds.

Dr. Gete Zeleke Director, Water and Land Resource Center (WLRC)

Major Successes


Gully Rehabilitation

The watershed was highly dissected by a large eroded ravine. Through the participation of communities and local authorities, the gully was treated by communities and is now converted into productive land generating huge biomass for livestock.


Area Closure

The degraded areas of the watershed were closed at three locations. Moisture-harvesting structures were built by communities to enhance the speed of regeneration. The closed areas were allocated for utilization through a cut and carry system. They are now fully rehabilitated and are used as a source of fodder for livestock.


Zero/Control Grazing

Free grazing was one of the major drivers of land degradation in the watershed. It was also one of the key factors for unsustainability of land management practices. Through focused consultation, communities set bylaws for enforcing zero-control grazing in their watershed.

Working Together

A variety of stakeholders are involved:
1. The Regional Agricultural Research institute for proven technology demonstration
2. The regional Extension office (Bureau of agriculture) - for coordinating communities to undertake land management practices (physical and biological).
3. The land users through their watershed committee - who are elected by communities and are fully responsible for coordination and liaise with the two groups mentioned above and WLRC
4. Local authorities - they are involved in mobilizing communities

The first two groups meet once a year for reviewing and planning. They then jointly implement their meeting outcomes. The community watershed team meets every two weeks and gives feedback to general community once every two months but more frequently when necessary. The local authorities make frequent visits.

Related Publication

Related Blog Posts