Wetlands provide several ecological and socio-economic benefits. However, in southwestern Ethiopia, the conversion of wetland to agricultural land is substantial. Hence, the aim of the study was to identify the socio-economic impacts of wetland cultivation. The impacts were assessed through focus group discussion and semi-structured questionnaire of 252 households. According to the respondents, the results indicated that the shortage of subsistence food (65.5%), shortage of cropland (64%), declining of upland crop productivity (63.5%) and increasing demand of agricultural products produced in wetland (40.48%) were the driving forces for wetland conversion and cultivation. The majority (65.48%) of the households benefited from wetland cultivation through growing different crops. However, cultivation of wetlands created deterioration of socio-economical valuable ecological factors. Among the ecological degradation, about 61.21% of households interviewed perceive the degradation of quality and quantity of domestic use of water, 91.27% perceives the decrease of grass for thatching, 100% of interviewed households perceive the loss of grass for plastering, and also for fodder. This affects the livelihood of the community through ailing from water born disease and increased cost for wastewater treatment, increasing cost of construction, reduction of milk and milk products, and to a decrease in number of livestock of 42.86, 61.51, 93.25 and 68% of interviewed households, respectively. Therefore, wetland management needs legal supports and institutions, planning of wise use and strategies for improving the productivity of upland cropland and for minimizing the load on wetland utilization for cultivation.
Key words: Impact, wetland cultivation, wetland benefit, perception, South-Bench district, Ethiopia.
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