MENDELU experts contribute to the protection of Ethiopia's Lake Awassa

4. 1. 2023

Scientists at MENDELU have made a significant contribution to improving the environment of Ethiopia’s Lake Awassa and its surroundings. On one side, the lake is adjacent to Awassa city, while on the other side lies agricultural land and a protected area nearby. Together with the Czech Development Agency and Ethiopian partners, scientists have managed to reduce pollution of the lake and implemented sustainable management in the adjoining landscape. As part of a four-year project, which is now coming to an end, they have supported the planting of trees and other plants, created wetlands, organized awareness campaigns and planned the subsequent care of the landscape.

The land around Lake Awassa is managed unsparingly, resulting in deforestation and uncontrolled cattle grazing. Lake Awassa, which is biologically very diverse, is used by locals for fishing, recreation and bathing, washing clothes, washing animals and watering livestock. Pollution, therefore, has a negative impact on the environment and the livelihood of residents. It was precisely these problems that the scientists focused on, rehabilitating more than half of the degraded land and preventing cattle grazing on the rest of the land. “Soil and waste will no longer be flushed into the lake on the newly constructed four-kilometre protection zone. By building a dike, we have reinforced 930 meters of the bank, anti-erosion dikes are being built in the ravine opening into the lake to prevent soil being washed away, and greenery is being revitalized on almost fourteen and a half hectares of the lakeside,” summarized Hana Habrová from the Department of Forest Botany, Dendrology and Geobiocoenology at FFWT MENDELU.

In the city of Awassa, located on the shore of the lake, four parks have been revitalized, new fencing has been built, equipment, playgrounds and greenery have been added. The lakeside area also serves as a park, which is why three wetlands have been created to protect the shores against contamination, and trees and other plants have also been added. “Wetlands have been established along canals that collect water from the city and surrounding areas and drain it into the lake. The purpose of the wetlands is to filter primarily solid waste that was discharged directly into the lake. Dikes have been constructed using sandbags and the wetlands have been planted with native grasses that were transplanted from the surrounding area. Grasses should further contribute to water purification and survive in the wetlands without any problem,” Habrová explained.

The introduction of innovations in agriculture and forestry will lead to improved land management. The project also includes a number of workshops, excursions and community meetings that follow on from the measures implemented in the field. By improving the knowledge of the local population, the sustainability of the project will increase. In May, for example, a workshop was held to explain the protection plan for the lake. “During the workshop, trainers presented various methods of rehabilitation of degraded areas, soil and water conservation, and management of the protection zones, which are very important for lake Awassa. During the training, farmers shared their experience of various sustainable land management practices which need to be applied to protect the lake, and emphasized the great importance of agroforestry practices,” explained Habrová. The locals were also educated in the management of cattle breeding and its economic return, as well as the importance of trees in the area.

An integral part of the project is also the adoption of a landscape care plan, which was drawn up by MENDELU experts. The plan for sustainable management in the landscape mainly focuses on biotopes of the catchment area, the use of land in the lake’s water basin and the conditions of management in the protection zone around it. Community representatives are already managing the territory according to the new plan. An awareness campaign and training of local communities on nature conservation and waste management is also planned for December. This will also be held for school pupils in the areas adjacent to the lake.

Contact person for further information: Ing. Hana Habrová, Ph.D., +420 608 753 499;; Institute of Forest Botany, Dendrology and Geobiocoenology, FFWT MENDELU

Source: Czech Development Agency

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