Water is essential for productive soils, but it can also be disastrous. Heavy rainfall events – likely to become more intense as the climate warms – washes soil off the land, particularly hillsides or in areas with highly erodible soil types. This strips the land of its nutrients, reduces agricultural productivity and clogs waterways and reservoirs, thus increasing costs for purifying drinking water.
Measures such as reforestation, creating hillside terraces, maintaining continuous soil cover with vegetation and mulches, and reclaiming gullies can help protect the soil from heavy rain. Measures to conserve soil and water in Ethiopia can improve farm incomes by an average of 50%. This includes doubling crop productivity and the fodder available to feed animals, while also reducing by a third the risk of crop failure due to droughts and other climate shocks.