Roadside planting in Ethiopia: Turning a Problem into an Opportunity
Roads have both positive and negative impacts in the areas surrounding them. With the expansion of roads growing at an inexorable speed in Ethiopia and all Sub-Saharan Africa, these impacts need to be well understood. A questionnaire was used to gather information on road-related impacts on the rural population. A total of 529 sample households were selected in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia. The three most common consequences cited by respondents in order of importance were dust, flooding and erosion. Close to 44% of the respondents said that the occurrence of dust has increased after construction of the road. The reduction of yield estimated by farmers ranges from 10% to 50%. Close to 11% of the sample households faced decline in crop production and income due to dust lifted up from roads. The breakpoint for road dust occurred approximately at 200 to 280 meters from the road. Roadside plantations along rural roads have proven to mitigate road-related impacts and restore the ecological balance. When linked to rural development programs, roadside planting can create employment while generating a
reliable source of income for rural communities.