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.