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Thursday, June 29, 2017

My research stay in Ethiopia: I learn from the indigenous knowledge of the local people

I am Shibire Bekele from Ethiopia, Studying MSc. In Tropical Forest Management in TU Dresden, Germany.
Agroforestry system
I am working in my master thesis on financial analysis of smallholder’s woodlot and homestead agroforestry systems in Southern Ethiopia. The thesis is integrated under the WoodCluster project and supervised by Prof. Jürgen Pretzsch from TU Dresden and co-supervisor Dr. Tsegaye Bekele from Hawaasa University, Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources. I am interested to work under this theme as most farmers in Ethiopia use their land based on the previous land use where only some of them consider the market factors of their production. Analyzing profitability of woodlots and homestead agroforestry system will help the local land owners to plan on the farming system which rewards the household with more financial profit.
It is a great pleasure to collect my data in Sidama Zone, Ethiopia, where about 84 languages are spoken. Unluckily, I don’t speak the local language of Sidama which is spoken in my study area and it feels strange to work with a translator in my own country. It was also a big opportunity for me to learn the beautiful culture of Sidama.
Focus group discussion
Most of the interviewees were hospitable and open minded to provide data but some households have fear and ask questions: whether I come from the government office and who will use the data. My translator had to explain that I am a student and I need the data for my thesis. If there were no further questions we continued if they agreed.
Unforgettable day!! Demakese – (Ocimum lamifolium)
Shibire with herbs as traditional medicine on her hand
The day I got ill in the village was an unforgettable moment of data collection! I felt that we already became a family. When somebody is ill all of a sudden, they say it’s “mich”, an infection of fever with headache and mouth bliste. The locals medicate it with the herb called Demakese (Ocimum lamifolium). It is used to treat coughs and colds. The fresh leaves are squeezed and the juice sniffed.
 Read more about his work here
Quantifying the hydrologic response of land use/land cover change (LULCC) is of paramount importance to improve land management. This study was carried out to analyze the effect of LULCC on water quality and quantity. LULCC of the watershed in 1986, 1999 and 2011 was analyzed from Landsat satellite images using supervised classification. Time series and point data were collected from the upper and lower sections of Wedesa, Wesha and Hallo RiversWater quality parameters (turbidity, suspended solid (SS), total dissolved solid (TDS), pH, electric conductivity (EC), total organic carbon (TOC), ammonia, nitrate and phosphate) were analyzed in the laboratory. A considerable decline in forest and an increase in woodland were observed in the watershed during the indicated periods. Turbidity, SS, TDS and EC were significantly higher (< 0.05) in the lower section of the rivers compared to the upper ones. Ammonia, nitrate and phosphate were higher in the lower section of some rivers compared to the upper ones. In general, water quality in the upper watershed of the three rivers was better than the lower one with respect to considered parameters, which might be related to the observed LULCC. Most water quality parameters varied (< 0.05) seasonally in both the upper and lower sections of the rivers. Despite the irregular rainfall pattern and increased water consumption from the catchment, the annual discharge of the Tikur-Wuha River to Lake Hawassa shows an increasing trend. We concluded that the discharge is not only related to the upstream LULCC but also to the management of the Cheleleka wetland. However, further investigation is required to determine the dominant factors affecting inflow discharge to Lake Hawassa.

Hawassa / Awassa Hawassa Facts and Figures
Following the ecological threat of Hawassa Lake, which is a habitat for enormous aquatic animals and a livelihood for a number of people, stakeholders are striving to rescue the lake from drying.
Indeed, the issue is real. As concerned professionals and stakeholders uttered, 'the Lake is in great trouble'!.
Hawassa University Biology Department Head Dr. Girma Tilahun said it is unthinkable to see Hawassa town with the absence of Hawassa Lake. However, the speedy expansion of township, industry and tourism development are putting the lake in danger.
Irrefutably, expansion of industries, township and tourism are sources of economic growth that can not be put aside, but designing a mechanism that enables to execute both side by side, with out causing any harm is, imperative.
Mentioning that he has been conducting various studies on rift-valley lakes, Dr. Girma said the land which is holding water and serving as a source of water is now declining due to the expansion of the town. The pollution of the lake is also intensified as the town expands. For instance, 'Cheleleke Lake' which was 14.5 square kilo meters deep some 40 years ago, has now shown a great decline and reached below 100 meter square approaching to dry out, he elucidated."
The Lake, which was once a tributary for Hawassa Lake, has become invisible these days to take its picture from satellite.
The Hawassa University has begun various activities to rescue the Lake. It has been conducting researches. "If we pay little attention on the matter and hesitate to act, we could not end the sacrifice it requires," said Dr. Girma adding that "We have to work carefully to address the problem. The studies should be conducted in an organized manner. For this to happen, coordination is critical. The threat is already there. The supervision and follow-up work should also be sustained steadily. What is more, such a task requires performing tasks at the grass root level."
Andinet Youth Recreational Association earns its income through serving fried fish for tourists, Chairman of the Association Temesgen Wolka said. The lake is serving as means of living for hundreds of people that the ecological threat of the lake risks those people.
"We have already established a strong bond with the lake. However, the Lake is facing challenges that endanger its future existence. The water is polluted severely that aquatic animals and plants are declining from day to day," he said
Hawassa Lake Lovers Association President Professor Zenabu Gebremariam also said that the protection and conservation tasks of the lake are not left to the government alone. "The society should highly participate on the matter. The Association is established with a mission of serving as a bridge between the government and the public at large," he said.
According to the President, the Association will mobilize the public and provide advice to government about the lake. Its vision is to restore the lake to its previous condition, and make it a conducive environment for biodiversity.
South Nations Nationalities and Peoples State Environment Protection Authority General Director Samuel Qeqebo on his behalf said that, various tasks has been carried out to prevent the lake from such siltation, over exploitation of fish and dumping of wastes, and rescue biodiversity.
Underscoring that efforts have been made in collaboration with Rift Valley Lakes Irrigation Authority and the Oromia State Government to prevent land degradation, he said adding that implementation of the solution requires coordinated efforts of all stockholders.