People’s Participation in Development: The Actors and Factors Shaping People’s Participation in Environmental Conservation Initiatives in Eferatena Gidem District, Ethiopia

Azmeraw Ayehu Tesfahun


As of the mid-1990s, the notion of Public participation in development has been gaining momentum as an essential ingredient of development interventions in Ethiopia, following the failure of past development model to bring in the desired results. Despite the recognition and policy reform that encourages participation, achieving sustained and active community participation in practice remains a challenge in the country. This study is, therefore, an attempt to examine the nature and determinants of smallholder farmers’ participation in government-led community-based environmental conservation initiatives (PECI) in Eferatena Gidem district, Ethiopia. The data for the research project was collected using a structured questionnaire survey by interviewing 261 randomly selected smallholder farmers. The data collected using the survey method was coded and analysed using both descriptive and inferential data analysis techniques, including a participation index, t-test, Chi-square test, and Binary Logistic Regression Model using SPSS. Results of the study revealed that the majority of the respondents had a good level of awareness about environmental problems in their vicinity. However, a statistically significant difference was observed among respondents concerning their perception and attitudes towards government-led PECI. The findings also indicated that despite the process offered some degree of power to the local people following policy reform and institutional restructuring, the participation of farmers, particularly in the decision-making process, were found to be still limited. This is confirmed by the results of the participation index analysis, which revealed that the vast majority of the respondents had a low-to-moderate level of participation. In addition, the study also revealed that farmers’ participation in PECI was dominantly guided by extension workers and government officials indicating that the decision-making process is still manipulated by traditional power holders. Furthermore, the results of the Binary Logistic Regression Model revealed that out of the eleven demographic, socio-economic and institutional explanatory variables hypothesized to influence farmers’ level of participation, the age of the household head, farmers’ attitude towards PECI, tailor-made training, extension contact frequency and membership of farmers in peasant associations were found to be significant factors that positively influenced farmers’ decision behaviour. Whereas, farmers’ active involvement in off-farm employment was found to be a negative and significant determinant of farmers’ decision to participate. In general, this study provides an insight into the nature and determinants of farmers’ decision behaviour to participate in PECI, which needs to be considered in any attempt aimed at increasing their level of participation.

Keywords: participation, environmental conservation initiatives, smallholder farmers

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5731 ISSN (Online)2225-0972

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