Building soil carbon stocks to enhance adaptation and mitigate climate change in climate-smart landscapes, Southern Ethiopia

Climate change is a major challenge, particularly for Ethiopia’s rural populations who depend on rainfall for subsistence farming and are therefore more vulnerable to climate-related risks. Agriculture accounts for more than 40% of Ethiopia’s gross domestic product (GDP) (UNDP, 2015), and contributes significantly to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (FDRE, 2015). In Ethiopia, annual GHG emissions were estimated to be 150 Mt CO2e in 2010, with 50% of emissions coming from agriculture, and another 37% from forestry sectors — mainly agriculture related deforestation (FAO, 2016). Furthermore, the capacity of Ethiopia’s agricultural, forest, and grassland sectors to act as carbon sinks is decreasing rapidly due to unsustainable agricultural practices. Since 2011, the federal government of Ethiopia has embarked on implementing the Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) strategy. CRGE has ambitious commitments in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to "climate-proof" Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) by curbing its GHG emissions by more than half by 2030, while also building resilience against climate risks and future climate change. As set forth in the second GTP, reaching this goal will require boosting agricultural productivity by introducing climate-smart technologies and practices that include integrated watershed management, conservation agriculture, as well as nutrient and crop management across agroecosystems and landscapes with the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 40 Mt CO2e in 2030 (CRGE, 2011).