In 2011, SANREM was awarded $159,000 for one year to improve rural roads in Ethiopia. During a previous associate award project, a SANREM team traveled to Ethiopia and designed a “train the trainers” pyramid in which the team will train road engineers, who will in turn train rural road desk officers. The desk officers will then provide training and oversight for development agents and contractors at the local level. A two-week pilot training workshop is planned in Ethiopia this May, where the participants – regional road authorities and desk officers – will learn to integrate community-based watershed planning and other environmental issues into road construction.
SANREM is working with roads constructed by the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), part of the Ethiopian government’s Food Security Program. Some major components and needs of the project are:
- Rural transportation systems are essential for sustainable development of watersheds (e.g., access to markets – input and output, safety, technical assistance to support sustainable food security and development of watersheds)
- PSNP has local community-based training infrastructure in place (system of development agents) to provide road construction funding, local training and oversight.
- Local-level officials currently lack adequate training and guidance materials on the construction and maintenance of sustainable and environmentally sound rural feeder roads.
- Because rural feeder roads alter the hydrologic landscape, they can have both positive and negative environmental and economic impacts. On the negative side, if rural feeder roads are not carefully designed, constructed, and maintained, changes in hydrologic flow paths can substantially increase erosion, which reduces agricultural productivity and leads to downstream water quality problems. On the positive side, rural feeder roads can be designed and constructed so that they are not sources of erosion and can be used as rainwater collection areas to increase water available for potable and agricultural use. The labor-based rural feeder road Training of Trainers program will contain elements that enable rural feeder roads to be designed so that they do not cause environmental problems and can be integrated with PSNP watershed management plans and other PSNP projects such as rainwater catchments used for potable and agricultural water use.
The ultimate goal of the training program is to provide those at the bottom of the pyramid (local development agents) with the training, experience, and necessary skills needed to oversee local construction of environmentally sound and sustainable feeder roads as a normal part of their watershed management training. To achieve this desired impact, those at the top must first acquire significant training and have access to appropriate education materials if they are to adequately execute their training and oversight responsibilities and implement the training strategy.
For additional information, see the project announcement.