Promoting improved rainwater and land management in the Blue Nile (Abay) basin of Ethiopia.


This study synthesises existing knowledge, lessons, and gaps in knowledge from Ethiopia’s experiences with rainwater management systems for production—in other words, sustainable land and water management interventions. ‘Rainwater management’ (RWM) is defined broadly and includes soil and water conservation, sustainable land management, rainwater harvesting, conservation farming and micro irrigation—management of water for crops, livestock, agroforestry and fish productivity. The study is based on a review of nearly 400 sources, including policy papers, project documents, and research studies. We have approached the subject from a broadly historical perspective, tracing changes in policies and strategies from the 1970s to the present as policymakers, implementation agencies and development partners learned from experience. We have also traced the results and outcomes of associated research programs and identified knowledge gaps. Based on this detailed review we have made recommendations regarding policies and implementation strategies, and for research. The study was commissioned by the Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) whose second phase of work in the Nile basin will address a critical ‘Basin Development Challenge:’ ‘improving rural livelihoods and their resilience through a landscape approach to rainwater management’. We have therefore focused primarily on experiences in the Ethiopian highlands with special reference to the Abay (Blue Nile) River basin.


NBDC Technical Report 1. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI. 138 pp.

Published 1 January 2011