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Rooting the Future; On-Farm Trees’ Contribution to Household Energy Security and Asset Creation as a Resilient Development Pathway—Evidence from a 20-Year Panel in Rural Ethiopia

Morrow, Nathan, Salvati, Luca, Colantoni, Andrea, Mock, Nancy
Sustainability 2018 v.10 no.12
World Bank, assets, biomass, burning, crop residue management, crop residues, deforestation, econometric models, energy, environmental quality, farms, feces, fertilizers, forage, forests, fuelwood, livelihood, livestock, sustainable development, trees, water management, Ethiopia
Most rural people globally cook with firewood or other sources of biomass. When biomass that has more productive uses is instead burnt, it is a sign of household level energy insecurity. Burning crop residue and dung for fuel reduces the availability of fertilizer and fodder, as well as directly contributes to poor health outcomes. Ethiopia is largely deforested, and now many of Ethiopia’s trees are on farms rather than in forests. The objective of this research is to investigate the relationship of on-farm trees to household-level energy security, rural livelihoods, and wellbeing. Using an econometric model with 20-year panel data from rural Ethiopia, we find on-farm trees contribute to building the household’s most valuable asset: their home. By contributing to household-level energy security, we find on-farm trees increase crop residue availability for maintaining the rural household’s second most valuable asset: their livestock. Large development efforts, including integrated water management projects and investment programs from the World Bank, are increasingly recognizing contributions of trees on farms, and environmental quality in general, as important contributing factors to meeting sustainable development outcomes. Asset creation related to on-farm trees and improved home biomass management provides a compelling pathway for building resilience, maintaining wellbeing, and reinforcing the foundation of rural livelihoods.