Low public participation and weak rules threaten exclosure sustainability in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia

​​​​​​Journal: Socio-Ecological Practice Research

Published on 14th February , 2023



 Haileselassie Ghebremariam Araya,  Oliver Vivian Wasonga, Stephen Mureithi,  Emiru Birhane &  Nadhem Mtimet 


Range exclosures have been used as a tool to restore degraded communal grazing lands in Tigray region of Northern Ethiopia. Although there seems to be ecological evidence of success in rehabilitation of degraded rangelands in Tigray, there is unclear translation of these achievements into socio-economic benefits. It was hypothesized that this could be partly attributed to poor governance of the range exclosures occasioned by low participation and weak rules. This paper tried to characterize the exclosure governance system in Tigray Region of Northern Ethiopia to understand the key and interconnected exclosure governance elements of public participation and rules at the grass-roots level. Tanqua-Abergele located in the lowlands of Tigray was systematically selected from districts under Sustainable Land Management Programmes (SLMP). Five Tabias were selected from the district for the governance study. Data was collected from 331 surveyed households, 43 Key Informants and 72 Focus Groups. The results of binary logit regression showed that public engagement in exclosure governance was determined by gender, age, training in SLMP, Tabia and administrative role (p < 0.05). Participation of local community during exclosure selection varied significantly with respondents’ administrative roles (p = 0.026), age group (p = 0.001), SLMP training (p < 0.001), and gender (p = 0.007). The main challenges reported to undermine sustainability of the exclosure programme were illegal grazing and encroachment of exclosures. Communities were not adequately involved in decisions on establishment, formulation of bylaws, and benefit distribution. This has led to incidences of forceful access to resources within exclosures, often resulting in conflicts among guards and community members. Institutionalizing exclosure management at village level is necessary to provide ownership and responsibility to the communities and for the sustainability of the rangeland rehabilitation programme.