Promoting adoption of sustainable land management technologies by women and couples in rural Ethiopia: Evidence from a randomized trial

Last registered on December 23, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Promoting adoption of sustainable land management technologies by women and couples in rural Ethiopia: Evidence from a randomized trial
Initial registration date
December 18, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
December 21, 2023, 7:58 AM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
December 23, 2023, 1:50 AM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.


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Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
World Bank

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Sustainable land management (SLM) technologies are widely promoted as strategies to enhance resilience against adverse climatic and environmental conditions by improving soil fertility and water retention, reducing erosion, and storing additional carbon in the soil. In Ethiopia, policy interest in enhancing sustainable land management is high, but take-up of SLM practices remains low. The objective of this randomized controlled trial is to evaluate a bundled intervention providing training and inputs (tree seedlings and vegetable gardening inputs) to encourage rural Ethiopian households who are part of the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) to adopt three complementary SLM practices: tree planting, composting, and home gardening. As women’s adoption of climate adaptation strategies may be more limited due to reduced labor availability, limited access to inputs, informational barriers, and restrictive social norms, we also seek to evaluate two different targeting strategies - training women alone, or training couples jointly - designed to encourage women’s participation in the decision-making around and implementation of sustainable land management technologies. Comparing the relative impacts of the two treatment arms allows us to test whether men’s engagement increases the probability of adopting SLM practices and of incurring any benefits, and whether this engagement affects patterns of intra-household task sharing and equality in decision-making. We aim to measure whether there is heterogeneity in adoption based on households' baseline level of spousal cooperation, perception of climate risks, and time and risk preferences.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Gilligan, Daniel et al. 2023. "Promoting adoption of sustainable land management technologies by women and couples in rural Ethiopia: Evidence from a randomized trial." AEA RCT Registry. December 23.
Experimental Details


The main intervention was a three-day training (four days in treatment arm T2) conducted in June and July 2023 that provided an overview of three sustainable land management practices: tree planting, composting, and establishing a home garden. First, the training covered timely pit preparation, correct tree planting, maintenance, and long-term benefits of locally adapted fruit trees and other multi-purpose trees, as well as related relevant climate smart practices and land management techniques. Second, the training provided an overview of composting practices: collecting green grasses, animal manure, and other inputs for composting, preparing the compost, and applying it to planted trees and vegetables. Third, the training outlined how to establish a vegetable garden following intercropping principles and how to effectively maintain a garden. The curriculum was based on an extension strategy developed by the Ethiopian government.

The trainings were rolled out at existing kebele-level farmer training centers or model farmer demonstration sites. SPIR staff contacted all sample households in kebeles assigned to treatment arms T1 or T2 to provide an invitation to the training. However, in the women’s only arm, other male members of the household could not substitute for the target woman in attending the training. Women were allowed to bring their children with them to the training site in order for them to facilitate their participation. Following the completion of training, all participants in T1 and T2 received 4-6 free tree seedlings and vegetable gardening inputs (seeds, shovel, hoe and watering can). Seedlings were distributed by SPIR implementing organizations in July 2023, roughly four weeks post-training, at a point when participants had prepared their planting sites.

In the treatment arm targeting couples (T2), the fourth additional day of training was used primarily to conduct a joint planning exercise that required the participating couples to jointly develop a workplan for tree maintenance, composting and home gardening over the next six to twelve months, and devise the associated labor allocation. The participants were provided with a planning worksheet designed to be accessible to both literate and non-literate participants; the worksheet included a graphical depiction of all the required phases of work associated with adoption of each SLM technology, and allowed participants to indicate who would lead in each phase, or if they would execute a particular phase jointly. (A copy of the planning sheet is provided in the Appendix.) The participants then participated in a brief facilitated planning exercise led by the training facilitator and had an opportunity to jointly fill out their plan, assisted as needed by the facilitator. The spouses retained the document to allow them to refer to it over the study period. In the women only arm (T1), participants also received a simpler card that provided the list of tasks required to implement the SLM practices of interest, ensuring that participants in both treatment arms had access to the same information. However, the card provided in T1 had no columns for assigning tasks, and no planning exercise was conducted in the training.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Adoption of trees
Adoption of home gardening
Adoption of compost
Female engagement in SLM
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Female engagement in SLM will be determined as the number of SLM-related tasks in which the female spouse is engaged

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Tree health
Intensity of adoption of home gardening
Intensity of adoption of compost
Intrahousehold decision-making around SLM
Intrahousehold decision-making
SLM knowledge
Climate risk perception
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Tree health - Index constructed from two variables: tree height, basal stem diameter
Intensity of adoption of home gardening - Quantity of vegetables harvested
Intensity of adoption of compost - Amount of compost applied so far
Intrahousehold decision-making around SLM - Index of SLM-related decision-making, reported by both men and women
Intrahousehold decision-making - Index of household decision-making, reported by both men and women
SLM knowledge - Knowledge score around SLM practices
Climate risk perception - Index capturing household perception of climate risks

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Kebeles (sub-districts) were randomized into three arms prior to the baseline survey as follows:
1) T1 – Bundled training intervention rolled out to women alone;
2) T2 – Bundled training intervention rolled out to couples, with the addition of a joint planning exercise;
3) T3 – Control

Note that all households in all three arms (including the control arm) were beneficiaries of the PSNP and thus eligible for the cash and food payments provided through the PSNP.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Kebeles were randomized into three arms prior to the baseline survey by the research team using a random assignment method in Stata. The randomization was stratified by woreda (an administrative unit above kebele) and by a binary variable equal to one if a kebele was part of the sample for two other large-scale trials conducted in the study area by the SPIR research team. (Households included in these other trials were deemed ineligible.)
Randomization Unit
Kebele (sub-district in Ethiopia)
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
95 kebeles (sub-districts)
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,900 households
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
T1 (women only invited) - 33 kebeles
T2 (couples jointly invited) - 29 kebeles
T3 (control) - 33 kebeles
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Please see the table below. It reports power calculations that are re-estimated using baseline data for our primary outcomes of interest, given that very little data was available for power calculations prior to the baseline data collection. The trial has the statistical power to detect increases of around 0.2-0.3 standard deviations in the major outcomes of interest, including adaptation of sustainable land management practices, SLM knowledge, and variables linked to intrahousehold decision-making. Mean (control) SD (control) ICC MDE Household has any trees 0.703 0.457 0.142 0.306 Household has a home garden 0.492 0.500 0.161 0.320 Household has a compost heap 0.255 0.436 0.111 0.280 Female's total SLM knowledge score (0-8) 3.141 1.669 0.007 0.169

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
International Food Policy Research Institute Institutional Review Board (IFPRI IRB)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Ethiopian Society of Sociologists, Social Workers and Anthropologists Institutional Review Board (ESSSWA's IRB)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

SLM pre-analysis plan_22 Dec 2023



Uploaded At: December 23, 2023