Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Oxford, Mississippi » National Sedimentation Laboratory » Watershed Physical Processes Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #322404

Research Project: Technologies for Managing Water and Sediment Movement in Agricultural Watersheds

Location: Watershed Physical Processes Research

Title: The economic cost of upland and gully erosion on subsistence agriculture for a watershed in the Ethiopian highlands

Author
item AYELE, GETANEH - Bahir Dar University
item GESSESS, AZALU - Bahir Dar University
item ADDISIE, MESERET - Bahir Dar University
item TILAHUN, SEIFU - Bahir Dar University
item TENESSA, DAREGOT - Bahir Dar University
item Langendoen, Eddy
item STEENHUIS, TAMMO - Cornell University - New York
item NICHOLSON, CHARLES - Pennsylvania State University

Submitted to: African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/26/2015
Publication Date: 12/1/2015
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/62700
Citation: Ayele, G.K., Gessess, A.A., Addisie, M.B., Tilahun, S.A., Tenessa, D.B., Langendoen, E.J., Steenhuis, T.S., Nicholson, C.F. 2015. The economic cost of upland and gully erosion on subsistence agriculture for a watershed in the Ethiopian highlands. African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. 10(4):265–278.

Interpretive Summary: Erosion of fertile top soil in the Ethiopian highlands has profound impacts on both the affected farmers' livelihood and population at large. During the 2013 and 2014 rainy seasons scientists of the USDA-ARS Watershed Physical Processes Research Unit in collaboration with researchers at Bahir Dar University (Ethiopia), Cornell University and Pennsylvania State University conducted research to quantify the cost of upland sheet and rill and bottomland gully erosion in the Birr watershed located south of Lake Tana, Ethiopia. Soil erosion rate was estimated to range between 10 to 75 tons per hectare per year. The cost of soil erosion was estimated as $17 per year per person, which equaled about 19% of the per capita income of the individuals living in the watershed. Nutrient depletion from topsoil erosion alone equaled about 9% of the per capita agriculture income (crop and livestock). The result (19%) is high compared to the average value of 14% for Ethiopia and 7 to 10% for Sub-Saharan Africa. Gully erosion in the bottomlands was the dominant producer of soil losses. Government agencies and NGOs should therefore focus on reducing gully erosion to improve the livelihood of the local population.

Technical Abstract: This paper quantifies the cost of erosion; it uses nutrient replacement cost to value topsoil nutrient depletion, daily wage rate to monetize the opportunity cost of labour due to gully erosion and local market price to quantify the lost animal and cash crop trees. Soil erosion rate is estimated from 10 t ha-1yr-1 as high as 75 t ha-1y-1. The cost of soil erosion was US $ yr-1 17 per person, the loss was 19 % of the per capita income of the individuals in the watershed. The nutrient depletion from topsoil only cost 9 % of the per capita agriculture income (crop and livestock). The result is high compared to 14% in Ethiopia and 7 to 10 % in Sub-Sahara Africa. Therefore, in order to reduce the cost of soil erosion, the overall soil erosion problems should be managed in participatory soil conservation practices in hotspot erosion areas.