Rehabilitation of Ethiopia's May-Muk watershed is to benefit from support from the World Bank’s Sustainable Land Management Project (SLMP-2), as part of a public-private partnership (PPP) with the country's Ministry of Agriculture, and local partners, Raya Brewery, Mekelle University and a local village administration.
Specified areas of cooperation and co-financing have been identified and Mekelle University will conduct socio-economic and bio-physical assessments, which are crucial for evidence-based interventions in sustainable land management.
Over the past 40 years, demand for farmland, firewood and other natural resources has degraded the watershed, threatening livelihoods and the community’s water supply and, crucially, the brewery’s water resources.
In this new partnership, the brewery is paying local farmers to participate in efforts to construct terraces and plant trees. A ban on open grazing has been instituted but the loss of fodder has been replaced by bi-monthly deliveries of beer production residue.
There is now a ban on cutting firewood, offset by community efforts to get access to the power grid. Eucalyptus tree seedlings are being planted and offer a marketing opportunity of tree logs for the local chip-wood factory.
“We are constructing terraces to prevent soil erosion. Trees are planted and cattle are staying at home unlike before when they wandered around for grazing. We feed them residue from the beer factory, which is very nutritious for milking cows,” said Hailu Birhanu, a local farmer.
It’s also been good news for the beer company which is producing around 600,000 hectoliters of beer per year and plans to expand that to 1.3 million hectoliters in the next two years.
“Through joint consultations with development agents, woreda officials, the regional RLLP team and Mekelle University, Raya Brewery has been able to win the trust of the community and build a mutual understanding of the need for effective collaboration in the conservation of May-Muk natural resources, particularly the spring water, which is vital both for the beer production and the community’s livelihood,” reports the World Bank.
Raya Brewery is paying for ecosystem service but it seems like a triple win for the company, the community and the environment.