A case study of the Bechera agricultural development project, Ethiopia

This paper analyses the impacts on local communities and environments generated by an investment project known as the Bechera Agricultural Development Project, located in the Western part of Oromiya Regional State, Western Shoa Zone, Bako Tibe Woreda. Covering an area of 10,700 hectares leased by the Ethiopian government to an Indian agro-exporter, this project is affecting the livelihoods of almost 5,000 people living from crop cultivation and livestock husbandry. Despite struggles by local communities to the takeover of their grazing land, the project has finally got under way, involving an area that is apparently much larger than it was supposed to be and which, for now at least, is mostly being left unproductive. The study shows that negative impacts, such as insecure access to water, water contamination, and the loss of vital grazing areas, are already becoming apparent, although there are some positive impacts such as the creation of employment opportunities for local community members.