REALISE - survey and mapping of soil resources

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The 'Realising Sustainable Agricultural Livelihood Security in Ethiopia' (REALISE) programme was established in 2018 with the aim to contribute to sustainable livelihoods through the introduction of improved farming practices, innovations and social experiments to strengthen the current Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP). The programme focuses on four regional states, covering 60 woredas, and has an initial implementing period of three years (2018-2020).

The programme is funded by the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and implemented with support from Wageningen University and Research (WUR) in the context of the bilateral BENEFIT partnership between the governments of Ethiopia and the Netherlands.

ISRIC - World Soil Information's role in the REALISE programme is to provide support to a soil survey and mapping initiative and capacity building activities., this as a follow up to its contributions to the CASCAPE project.


  • Goal of the REALISE programme is "Enhanced human, organizational and institutional capacities to adapt, validate and scale Best Fit Practices (BFPs) to improve the resilience of chronically food insecure households in PSNP woredas.
  • Goal of ISRIC's contribution is (i) to support the scaling of validated best fit practices by producing soil maps of selected pilot woredas at semi-detailed scale (in collaboration with the Soil Information and Mapping Directorate under the State Minister of Natural Resources and Food Security) and (ii) to provides capacity building in the field of soil mapping.


ISRIC is guiding the soil survey and mapping campaign that is currently ongoing in 18 woredas at a targeted scale of 1: 50,000 and conducted by six survey teams. For this purpose, a geomorphic base map was prepared at 50 m resolution (see Figure) to guide the localization of survey observations covering the diversity in landscape positions. Observations are made by soil augers and soil pits and recorded using a field template. The soils are classified as Reference Soil Groups, with preferably 1-3 principal qualifiers, according to the World Reference Base for soil resources (WRB, version 2014). Samples are collected from representative soil profiles and the soil analytical data are used to establish the final soil classifications as well as to characterize the definitive soil classes. Subsequently, the geographic distribution of these soil classes will be modelled, validated and mapped at targeted scale using Digital Soil Mapping (DSM) techniques and the maps will be shared for scaling purposes.  

Soil classification is key and critical in the approach and requires survey teams with pedological expertise. Also key is the adherence by all teams to agreed upon standards and approaches in data collection, processing and sharing. Hence, an introductory training has been provided by ISRIC staff, followed by infield backstopping of the survey activities with particular attention to surveying according to the base map and application of the WRB standards. Possibly, an additional training WRB and DSM will be provided.


The project will generate the following:

  • Survey prepared, including planning made, standards and materials defined and prepared including base map and data templates and training provided,
  • Survey guided, including infield backstopping, 
  • Survey data compiled and quality controlled, including classifications, and soil class maps produced and shared,
  • Capacity building


Wageningen University and Research (WUR), Wageningen Environmental Research (WEnR), Ethiopia Soil Information and Mapping Directorate, Ethiopia Ministry of Agriculture, regional partners including pedologists, and ISRIC.


Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


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