Maintaining the soil? A comparative study of soil maintenance practices, ressource poverty and degradation in two villages in the central highlands of Eritrea

Oman Ghebreyseus & Maj Manczak

Studenteropgave: Speciale


This study explores the relationship between land degradation and resource poverty. The research is based on fieldwork in two villages in the central highlands of Eritrea in 1997. Using a farming system approach, we investigate how the distribution of key resources among farming households influence their engagement in soil maintenance practices such as fallowing, manuring, crop rotation, chemical fertilizer, terracing, stone diversion, tree planting and contour plowing. Among these practices we stress households' use of animal dung because their ability to use dung as manure is limited by their use of animal dung as primary source of fuel. We stratify households by the number of draft oxen they own and gender head of households both of which have shown to reflect households' access to key resources. In contrast to the simple perception that the poor are active agents of environmental degradation, our findings reveal that households' engagement in soil maintenance practices are complex and not necessarily reflection of their access to key resources. The results of our investigation indicate that while female headed households engage less in soil maintenance practices the same clear trend is not present among households with less oxen. Furthermore, our findings reveal that only those households that have more access to key resources are able to accumulate sufficient animal dung in order to manure adequately i.e. compensate for the nutrients exported from agriculture through harvest.

UddannelserTekSam - miljøplanlægning, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato1 sep. 1999
Antal sider155