This study presents a simple rainfall-discharge analysis for the Andit Tid, Anjeni, and Maybar watersheds of northern Ethiopia. The Soil Conservation Research Programme (SCRP) established monitoring stations in each of these sites during the 1980s, with climate and stream flow measurements being recorded up to the present. To show how these data could be used to provide insight into catchment-level runoff mechanisms, simple linear relationships between effective precipitation and runoff are developed for each watershed, with the conclusion that all three watersheds exhibit consistent hydrologic behaviour after approximately 500 mm of cumulative effective seasonal rainfall has fallen since the beginning of season. After the 500 mm rainfall threshold is reached, approximately 50% of any further precipitation on these watersheds will directly contribute to catchment runoff. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.