This paper examines the relationships between environment, society and the state in the Gash-Setit region, western Eritrea. Through an examination of the environmental narrative of the local communities and the state, the study explores the different factors that have contributed to the environmental crisis in the region. These factors include population settlements, agricultural development policy of the state, war, drought and the disintegration of traditional management of the environment. A combined effect of the working of these factors has created environmental stresses in the Gash-Setit area. The environmental strains have far-reaching consequences for state-society and inter-community relations. The analysis incorporates historical, cultural and political dimensions to the understanding of the relationships between environment, society and the state.