Environmental Governance

The Environmental Governance & Education Program


About the EGE Program

The Environmental Governance & Education Program of the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Center and Network (HoA-REC&N) was launched in November 2008 to support and facilitate the improvement of environmental governance and management in the Horn of Africa region.

Program aims

  • Build capacity within different levels of government and civil society to improve environmental policies, creating an enabling environment for sustainable development and proper natural resource management.
  • Conduct research and release policy briefs to support the Center as well as the Network members.
  • Conduct a number of activities to mainstream the environment and sustainability within universities in Ethiopia and the region.
  • Coordinate governance related projects and programs of the Center.

The EGE Program mainly works in partnership with Government Organizations (GOs), Community-based Organizations (CBOs), Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) and with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to improve the interaction of people with the environment, and to support them in managing their environment by bringing together practitioners and academia to jointly take on environmental challenges both ‘on the ground’ and at policy level.

The various units of the Program are:

  • Environmental Governance – Steering and Technical Committees
  • Land Use Planning and Implementation
  • Central Rift Valley – Working Group
  • Universities Sustainability
  • School Sustainability
  • Civil Society and Post 2015

Environmental Governance – Steering and Technical Committees

The EGE Program supports environmental governance at sub-regional level by working closely with the sub-regional government offices as well as all stakeholders.

As a pilot case, the Program is working in the Oromia region of Ethiopia to support and facilitate the improvement of environmental governance in the region, particularly in the Central Rift Valley (CRV).

The CRV is an area of rich biodiversity but during the past few decades, it has seen a rapid expansion of state-run industrial schemes, private and smallholder agriculture. These activities have bought economic benefits to the local community but critical limits from unsustainable development pathways might soon be exceeded.

Inadequate planning and management of the fragile ecosystem which is highly sensitive to climate shifts could result in lower water levels in the lakes and diminished biodiversity. If instead, natural resource-based livelihood improvements are offered through a better understanding of ecosystem dynamics, it is possible to combat an environment-poverty merry-go-round and reduce both acute and chronic vulnerability to climate change impacts.

The following initiatives are working towards that end:

  • The Participatory Land Use Planning Program with focus on the area around Lake Ziway (Hara Dembel) which was facilitated by HoA-REC&N and Wageningen University of the Netherlands.
  • The Rift Valley Lakes Basin Integrated Resources Development Master Plan developed by the Ministry of Water Resources and Energy. This offers many climate-smart strategic options for the sustained and efficient utilization of natural resources. It also underlines the development of eco-tourism and non-agricultural growth.

HoA-REC&N is initiating a consultative meeting to establish steering and technical committees for sustainable development of the CRV landscape.

–          The steering committee will offer ecologically sound guidance on environmental governance and recommend appropriate mechanisms on issues of sustainable development.

–          The technical committee will advise on the coordinated, long-term management of the CRV through action-oriented and demand-driven sustainable development initiatives.

Together the committees could also make big steps towards developing a holistic and integrated land use plan, to transform the CRV and bring about ‘triple win’ benefits.

The CRV environment would flourish under proper management and the subsequent sustained socio-economic growth would improve the quality of life for people in the region. Therefore HoA-REC&N has pledged to facilitate the participatory process and provide support towards its realization.

Land Use Planning and Implementation

The Land Use Planning Program around Lake Ziway was initiated in 2008 based on an assessment that Lake Ziway was subject to increasingly competing claims from various stakeholders.

It is the only fresh water lake in the CRV region and a source of drinking water so there is an urgent need for the sustainable use of its resources.

Several stakeholders embarked on this cooperative pilot program to develop a future land use plan for the western part of the shore of Lake Ziway, where development is considered to be ‘investment-driven’ instead of being driven by a vision for a sustainable future.

Therefore, several NGOs, local, regional and federal government offices, as well as higher learning institutes, were supported by a consortium of organizations, namely HoA-REC&N, the Ethiopia Country Water Partnership (ECWP), Wageningen University and Research Center (WUR) and the Dutch Government Service for Land and Water Management (DGL), to develop a land use plan (LUPP) between the towns of Meki and Ziway.

The aim was to also take planning a step further towards actual implementation of priority components:

  • A buffer zone along the shore of the lake
  • A water quality monitoring system
  • A sustainable horticulture pilot (in terms of input use, including water use)
  • The diversification of the economy, specifically the promotion of eco-tourism by developing a high quality map of the area

Currently the LUPP continues to be implemented around Lake Ziway. So far the program has accomplished major achievements that include:

  • completion of a detailed inventory of birds, vegetation and habitat types along the western shore of the Lake Ziway strip;
  • continued monitoring of lake water quality on identified parameters;
  • a detailed landscape design. Further work is underway to realize some of the proposals that came out of the design. These include establishing a buffer area along the lake water and allowing public access via a walkway all along the shore that stretches up to 2.5 km; and
  • in collaboration with DLG and Sher Flower Company, a pilot artificial wetland for water purification purposes has been constructed in the compound of Sher Flower Company.

In the future, the LUPP is planning to expand its implementation scope from just the western strip of Lake Ziway shore to a wider sub-basin scale. The main focus will be the development and implementation of a water allocation plan in the sub-basin.

The EGE Program collaborates with the Ministry of Water Resources and Energy, and Oklahoma State University (OKU) to realize this plan, and currently a concept note has been developed and submitted to the Ministry, and interested experts from OKU are also being identified. The water allocation plan will be the first of its kind for the country and is expected to resolve issues of resource allocation.

If successful when piloted, this approach will be expanded to other sub-basins in the CRV and later basins outside the CRV.

Central Rift Valley – Working Group

The Central Rift Valley Working Group (CRV WG) was formed in 2006 by interested GOs, NGOs, CBOs and universities with the objective of addressing environmental and development issues in the CRV lake basin.

There are 6 core working groups and more than 20 registered organizations as working group members. The working group has two sub-groups:

–           Technical sub-working groups, which is led by SNV

–          Advocacy sub-working group

To date the CRV WG has done considerable work in the areas of tourism proposal development, for example the Advocacy group works on Abernosa ranch and on floriculture farms in the area, and the promotion of sustainable fish and livestock production, as well as efficient water utilization.

Recently, HoA-REC&N has agreed to take over the hosting of the CRV working group from Intermon Oxfam .

Universities Sustainability

Higher education has been identified as a critical change agent for furthering sustainable development in the Horn of Africa region through strengthening knowledge economy and innovations.

The Universities Sustainability unit of the EGE program has been working with higher education institutes (HEIs) and research institutions on environment and sustainability issues, and mainstreaming these themes within leadership, research, teaching and the curriculum, and community engagement and practices.

In 2010, the Center established the Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability in Ethiopian Universities (MESE) network, which was to be hosted within the EGE Program until the Consortium of Ethiopian Public Universities (CEPU) was established. Since then, participants agreed that the MESE would be co-hosted by HoA-REC&N – EGE and CEPU, which has since been established.

The MESE network was launched with the objective of:

  • Developing a common understanding among universities through engagement with leadership; and with the rationale of integrating environmental consciousness and sustainability into Higher Education (HE);
  • Contributing to the revitalization of environmental issues in HE through enhanced capacity building for environmental and sustainability education.

In doing so the EGE Program, together with Hawassa University and CEPU, launched the Greening Ethiopian Public Universities (GEPU) initiative in 2013. GEPU aims to implement MESE principles by assimilating environment and sustainability concerns into all universities in Ethiopia. Hawassa University is the first university to take part, and to start with, volunteer students will undertake assessments and monitor progress in terms of rooting sustainability in teaching practices and campus facilities. Assessments across universities in Ethiopia will uncover the differences and similarities between university communities in terms of thinking, prioritizing, decision making and taking action about sustainability.

Furthermore, the network provides an excellent partnership for enhancing not only Ethiopian public and private universities, but also the private sector/donor and community partnerships to promote environmental quality and sustainability. The unit is currently supporting the development of an African Environmental Education Action Plan being spearheaded by the Environmental Education and Training Unit of United Nations Environment Program.

School Sustainability

The overall goal of the Schools Sustainability Unit of the EGE Program plans to implement, in collaboration with the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society (EWNHS), the School Environment Education and Sustainability Project. The project will be located in the Ethiopian CRV, one of the country’s most fragile ecosystems and where community vulnerability to climate related stress is growing.

The School Environment Education and Sustainability Project objectives:

  • Replicate a project undertaken by EWNHS, involving setting up of rainwater harvesting structures in schools, in other areas of the CRV;
  • change the attitudes of future citizens so they care for the environment and use resources wisely;
  • Create new and develop existing nature clubs to create awareness amongst CRV school communities about climate change, environmental protection  and wise use of natural resources.

Civil Society and Post 2015

The EGE Program, foreseeing the need for capacity building regarding climate change negotiations amongst civil society, has organized ongoing negotiation training at a national level in Ethiopia, in partnership with various Network members.

The unit has also been supporting the participation of civil society members in international negotiations for the past 4 years. Furthermore, the civil society and Post 2015 unit was instrumental in supporting and facilitating several environmental advocacy campaigns in the past, in collaboration with other units within the program and Network member organizations. The unit is currently undertaking research to assess the Civil       Society Organization (CSO) participation in Sustainable Development issues in Ethiopia from Rio to Rio + 20.

The Program has also been instrumental in forming the Ethiopian Civil Society Coalition on Rio + 20 and Beyond. The Coalition prepared a position paper and several members represented the Coalition in Rio + 20. The Rio + 20 conference chose to form an open working group to set up Sustainable Development Goals. The unit is currently organizing the Post-2015 discussions amongst civil society in Ethiopia and in the region, with specific focus on environmental sustainability. It is also identifying options for further civil society engagement at the national and global level on Post-2015 issues and is working with the member organizations to realize the options identified. As part of the civil society capacity building initiative, the program is currently organizing a series of workshops and training sessions for civil society in various issues including environmental reporting.




Satishkumar Belliethathan (PhD)

Environmental Governance and Education

Partnership Programme

Programme Coordinator


(+251)(0)11 65 50 226