traditional cut-off drain [Ethiopia]

boy (amharic), traditional ditch

technologies_1467 - Ethiopia

Completeness: 59%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Department of Geography, University of Basel (Department of Geography, University of Basel) - Switzerland

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

graded ditch out of soil and stones to protect the fields below from water runoff

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


The ditch is digged into the steep land, into the soil. The lowert side is usually layn out with sontes to raise the soil wall and to stabilize the ditch so the water won't break through.

Purpose of the Technology: protect the field below from water runoff

Establishment / maintenance activities and inputs: by farmers on a individual basis, both establishment and maintenance is entirely up to the farmers.

Natural / human environment: steep, cultivated slope

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

South Wello

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • 0.1-1 km2

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • more than 50 years ago (traditional)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • as part of a traditional system (> 50 years)
Comments (type of project, etc.):

it is local, indigenous

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • protect a watershed/ downstream areas – in combination with other Technologies

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • cereals - barley
  • cereals - maize
  • cereals - wheat (spring)
  • legumes and pulses - beans
  • emmer wheat, teff
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 2

Longest growing period in days: 150 Longest growing period from month to month: Jul - Nov Second longest growing period in days: 150 Second longest growing period from month to month: Jan - May


Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): erosion, decline of soil fertility and yield decline
other major SWC specialist: shortage of grazing land and of forage

Major land use problems (land users’ perception): erosion, runoff, drought, climate

Type of cropping system and major crops comments: barley/wheat/emmer wheat - beans or teff - maize - barley/wheat/emmer wheat - beans or teff - maize

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • cross-slope measure

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

structural measures

structural measures

  • S3: Graded ditches, channels, waterways

Main measures: structural measures

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

  • Wt: loss of topsoil/ surface erosion

Main type of degradation addressed: Wt: loss of topsoil / surface erosion

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

drawing showing a traditional ditch, Maybar, Ethiopia

Location: Maybar. Wello

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: moderate

Technical knowledge required for land users: low

Main technical functions: control of dispersed runoff: retain / trap, control of dispersed runoff: impede / retard

Construction material (earth): the ditch is digged out and the earth is the used to build the walls a little bit higher and ist is

Construction material (stone): to lay out the earth wall on the lower side

Slope (which determines the spacing indicated above): 50%

Lateral gradient along the structure: 25%


Sabina Erny, Basel, Switzerland

4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. it grows itself
2. dig out the ditch
3. lay out the ditch with stones

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. clean the ditch from sediments best before rain season/whenever needed, necessary
2. add new stones, maybe fix holes best before rain season/wheneever needed, necessar

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)


the farmers do this themselves, it is part of their annual work

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

soil depth and soil type affects the time it takes to dig out the ditch

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:


Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

Moist dega

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Comments and further specifications on topography:

Landforms: Hill slopes (quite steep)

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • fine/ heavy (clay)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • high (>3%)
  • medium (1-3%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Soil fertility: Medium (ranked 1) and low (ranked 2)
Soil drainage/infiltration: Medium
Soil water storage capacity: Low (ranked 1) and medium (ranked 2)

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Off-farm income:
  • 10-50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • rich
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • animal traction
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Population density: 100-200 persons/km2
10% of the land users are rich and own 38% of the land (only rough estimates).
58% of the land users are average wealthy and own 36% of the land (only rough estimates).
32% of the land users are poor and own 26% of the land (only rough estimates).
Level of mechanization: Animal traction (ranked 1, ploughing with oxen) and manual work (ranked 2, hacking)

Off-farm income specification: farmers employ others for ploughing, so they can go to the market

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • state
  • leased, individual
  • leased, individual

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly negative

Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly positive

Long-term returns:


6.5 Adoption of the Technology

If available, quantify (no. of households and/ or area covered):


Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 91-100%

Comments on acceptance with external material support: survey results

100% of land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

200 land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

Comments on spontaneous adoption: survey results

There is no trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology

Comments on adoption trend: the ditches are the same; the farmers still build them the same way.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Biological soil conservation techniques for Maybar area, Ethiopia. Kassaye Goshu. 1997.

Available from where? Costs?

CDE, Bern

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Classification of the Environment Conditions. H.-J. Krüger. 2003.

Available from where? Costs?

CDE, Bern

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Area of Maybar, Wello, Ethiopia: Long-term Monitoring of the Agricultural Environment 1981-1994

Available from where? Costs?

CDE, Bern

Title, author, year, ISBN:

The Use, Maintenance and Development of Soil and Water Conservation Measures by Small-Scale Farming Householfs in Different Agro-Climatic Zones of Northern Shewa and Southern Wello, Ethiopia.Yohannes Gebre Michael. 1999.

Available from where? Costs?

CDE, Bern

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