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Desta, Hayal; Lemma, Brook and Gebremariam, Ephrem (2017): Identifying sustainability challenges on land and water uses: The case of Lake Ziway watershed, Ethiopia. In: Applied Geography, Vol. 88: pp. 130-143

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This paper firstly analyzes the land use - land cover (LULC) in Lake Ziway watershed (Ethiopia) and quantifies the changing patterns from 1973 to 2014 using Landsat images. Secondly, the paper estimates sediment yields using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT model). It also assesses and estimates water abstraction from Lake Ziway using survey data. The study shows that the conversions from woodlands into agricultural lands and settlement areas are the major detected LULC changes. Of the total area of the watershed, agricultural lands and settlement areas together increased from 57% in 1973 to 75% in 2014 at the expense of woodlands whose areas decreased from 26.16% to 6.63% in the study periods. The study also shows that water abstraction and sediment loads are increasing at Lake Ziway watershed. The major driving forces behind these LULC changes and the impacts on the lake natural condition are anthropogenic factors such as population growth, land policy changes and deforestation. Increasing demands for more land and water resources, i.e., land for settlements and cultivation, wood for fuel and charcoals, and water for irrigation and municipal water supply, are the underlying causes for the observed changes on the watershed resources. Thus, if the existing scenarios of human pressures are left neglected without management interventions, severe watershed degradations will continue to further affect the watershed's resources including the hydrology. Therefore, responsible government institutions should start mobilizing the local communities along with providing financial and material supports for watershed rehabilitation through afforestation and soil and water conservation activities. Additionally, the free -access practices for water use should be replaced by user-charge policy to regulate water abstractions in order to adequately sustain the water level of Lake Ziway and its feeder rivers. In this respect, this study provides firsthand information to policy makers and planners to put in place a comprehensive land and water use plan and regulations against the unruly human actions in the watershed before irreversible losses might happen to Lake Ziway and its watershed resources.

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