In Central Rift Valley, Ethiopia we aim to conserve the natural ecosystem, while at the same time enhancing community income and business sustainability. Lake Ziway and its ecosystem in Central Rift Valley is not only a biodiversity hotspot, but also economically significant: the lake is the only freshwater lake in the area, used for drinking water, small scale commercial fishing, and small- and large scale agricultural irrigation. Unsustainable irrigation, salinization and other human activities have led to a decline in water quantity and quality as well as land availability, threatening local livelihoods. To address these issues, IDH convenes and facilitates dialogues among key private, public and civil society stakeholders. As a coalition, we develop and implement a sustainable landscape management strategy, as well as co-fund a range of activities such as reforestation, solid waste management, and training smallholder farmers in good agricultural practices. 

Together with public and private companies, our we address sustainability issues through the following work streams:

  • Reforestation of degraded highly sites and development of alternative community livelihood options
  • Municipal solid waste management
  • Global good agricultural practices (GLOBALGAP) certification for selected smallholder farmer cooperatives irrigating from Lake Ziway
  • Water Allocation Plan Development support to the Rift Valley Lakes Basin Authority.
The Landscape

The wetland ecosystem in the Central Rift Valley is the largest fresh water ecosystem of Ethiopia. It is a biodiversity hotspot for flora and fauna, containing a diversity of water plants and water birds, which breed primarily in the ecosystem. The islands in Lake Ziway are unique for their historical and cultural heritage. Lake Ziway is the only freshwater lake in the area, used for drinking water, small scale commercial fishing, and small- and large-scale agricultural irrigation.

The Central Rift Valley is a sourcing area for floriculture, horticulture and viticulture, as well as a major source of drinking water. The horticultural sector comprises a mix of smallholder growers and commercial fruit and vegetable producers. Large smallholder mixed-farming produces wheat, maize, barley and teff, with predominant livestock of cattle, sheep and goat. Irrigation schemes are expanding and plans to develop aquaculture are in the making.

The area provides economic opportunities to local small scale farmers and large exporters. To be able to maintain and increase production in a sustainable way, issues of water pollution, unbalanced water use and deforestation need to be mitigated.

Large variations in water level due to irrigation is resulting in salt water intrusion of the lakes,  thus heavily impacting the supply of fresh water. This causes competition between water users, which, compounded with deforestation, is threatening the complex and vulnerable ecosystem of the Central Rift Valley.

There is a recognized need to foster land and water management at a landscape level that offers feasible technical solutions to both smallholder and commercial farmers, while strengthening the social-institutional environment required to catalyze change.

Our Activities

Since early 2015, ISLA Ethiopia has been convening, facilitating dialogues, and planning co-funding of worthwhile initiatives with key stakeholders. We have brought together and built a public private coalition with key public and private sector actors including the flower companies, farmers’ unions, Central Rift Lakes Basin Authority and other government stakeholders and NGOs.

Based on studies and bilateral consultations with these stakeholder, we have been piloting joint activities fostering sustainable land and water management. Our joint projects include:

  • Solid waste management
  • GLOBALGAP certification of smallholder farmers
  • Reforestation
  • Watershed management.


We are now in the process of scaling up these joint projects to achieve significant impact. Further, we are in the process of formalizing the established public private partners’ coalition into a supervisory committee. This financially viable governance model will then continue to take action for sustainable natural resources management in the Central Rift Valley. IDH will exit in 2020.



Title Type Year
Landscapes Information Brief: IDH’s approach to sustainable landscapes Brochure 2018
Ethiopia newsletter June 2018 Report 2018
IDH Landscape program Factsheet 2018
Ethiopia newsletter December 2017 Article 2017
Public private governance for thriving landscapes: Central Rift Valley Ethiopia Brochure 2017

For more information contact us

Our Public and Private Partners


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