Investments in land management in the north-western highlands of Ethiopia: the role of social capital

Firew, A.T.; Graaff, J. de; Kessler, C.A.


In the north-western highlands of Ethiopia investments in land management (LM) have not always been successful. The objectives of this study were to assess farmersÔ┐┐ perceptions about implementation approaches of soil and water conservation (SWC) practices and to explore the relationship between the different dimensions (factors) of social capital and investments in LM practices. Simple descriptive statistics were applied to analyse the implementation approaches, while factor analysis was used to reduce the social capital variables to six non-correlated factors for subsequent analysis. The Ordinary Least Square (OLS) model was used to analyse the effects of social capital dimensions on investment in three LM practices: bunds, compost and fertilizer. The study showed that the majority of the farmers state that they prefer the mass mobilization approach (which embodies social capital) to implement SWC practices. But farmers also pointed out several shortcomings of the mass mobilization approach (e.g., inefficient in labour utilization, lack of benefit sharing mechanism). The OLS model shows that the different dimensions of social capital affect investments in the LM practices differently. In particular, cooperation and trustworthiness positively influence investments in bunds and fertilizer use, while the extent of participation in formal institutions has a positive effect on fertilizer use and compost. Understanding and making use of these relationships could help in designing and implementing LM policies, strategies and programmes.