Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Soil conservation -- Ethiopia -- Economic aspects, Rain and rainfall -- Ethiopia, Bunding -- Effect on crop production, Stochastic analysis, Regression analysis


This study measures the impact of fanya juu bunds (an important soil and water conservation technology and the most popular type of contour bund in east Africa) on the value of crop production in a high-rainfall area in the Ethiopian highlands using cross-sectional multiple plot observations. We applied switching regression, stochastic dominance analysis (SDA), and decomposition and propensity score matching methods to ensure robustness. The switching regression, SDA, and decomposition analyses relied on matched observations, which was important because regression and SDA often do not ensure that comparable plots with conservation technology (conserved) and plots without (unconserved) actually exist in the distribution of covariates.

All models told a consistent story that the value of crop production for plots with bunds was lower than for plots without bunds. In addition, the yield decomposition results showed that, although there was little difference in endowments between conserved and unconserved plots, the returns to endowments were substantially higher for unconserved plots. Based on these findings, it was hard to avoid the conclusion that these technologies might reduce soil erosion and associated off-site effects, but they did so at the expense of poor farmers in the Ethiopian highlands. We concluded that unless productivity was increased—for example by increasing fodder grass production on bunds—fanya juu bunds reduced on-farm production and therefore could not be characterized as a “win-win” measure to reduce soil erosion.


© 2008 Environment for Development. All rights reserved. No portion of this paper may be reproduced without permission of the authors.

EfD DP 08-09

Persistent Identifier