The paper highlights a unique indigenous adaptation strategy to land degradation in the Tigray region in the form of mobilization of free labor from inhabitants of the community, which is invested in soil and water conservation (SWC) activities to restore the ecology of the community. Mobilizing collective action for investment in public goods may be a cheap and cost-effective way to enhance welfare and sustainable land management but many communities have not been successful in taking advantage of it. The existence of institutions in terms of grassroots organizations and rules and regulations with appropriate sanctions are major factors in the positive response to the call for community action in Tigray. The community is structured and organized into development groups, and men, women, and youth associations. These community organizations are used to mobilize their respective members for compulsory free labor. The developmental group leaders, tabia heads, work group leaders, and officials of the Bureau of Agriculture educate the people about the benefits of restoring the ecology and the consequences of inaction, organize the people and share the tasks, and ensure that the work is carried out
The authors note that commitment of people to communal activities like ecological restoration can be sustained if there are appropriate local- and national-level institutions, education about what needs to be done, support systems, and policies related to rural development. The case study in the Tigray region has illustrated how social networks and power relations are unique for each community and require appropriate methodological adaptations in research and development approaches. Social connectedness in the communities is an important resource that should be taken into account by development agents, extension workers, and advisory services in the dissemination of knowledge and information on agriculture and rural development. The study provides lessons for other regions in Ethiopia and other countries for the mobilization of people for collective action for safeguarding common property resources.