Conference name, dates, place

International Conference on Contemporary Development Issues in Ethiopia, August 16-18, 2001, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Document Type


Presentation Date



Farmers must perceive soil erosion as a problem before they will invest in preventing it. However, perceptions are often overlooked in the conservation literature. This study analyzes the levels and determinants of farmer perceptions of soil erosion in northern Ethiopia. Results are based on a survey of 250 farmers managing 900 fields during the 1995-96 cropping season. Farmer perceptions of the severity and productivity impact of soil erosion were measured at plot level as ordinal variables. Ordered probit and ordinary probit statistical regressions were used to analyze the levels and determinants of farmer perceptions.

Farmers were more likely both to perceive soil erosion and to perceive resultant yield loss if land degradation in their village was already severe, if they owned fields on steeply sloped land, and if their fields had convex or concave slope shape. On the other hand, farmers were less likely to view soil erosion as a problem or perceive yield loss if they were older, had fields far from the homestead, or had contact with the extension service. Farmers were more likely to perceive soil erosion (but not associated yield loss) if they had managed their fields for a longer period or had larger fields. Perceived yield loss was reduced on fields that had benefited from public conservation campaigns.

Educational programs to raise awareness of soil erosion should be an integral component of conservation extension services. A focus on technology transfer alone will not necessarily result in awareness of the erosion problem and enhanced adoption of conservation technologies. Educational programs need to target older household heads. Stable land tenure can facilitate conservation investment through its impact on erosion perception, in addition to its effect through tenure security.