Ancient techniques to turn the desert green

Photo credit: BBC

Aba Hawi shows off one of the dams built by communal labour

Turning Ethiopia’s desert green


A generation ago Ethiopia’s Tigray province was stricken by a famine that shocked the world. Today, as Chris Haslam reports, local people are using ancient techniques to turn part of the desert green.


Around 3,000 people answered the call to take part in the work -
Around 3,000 people answered the call to take part in the work –

By 10 in the morning, some 3,000 people have turned up. Using picks, shovels, iron bars and their bare hands, they will turn these treacherous slopes into neat staircases of rock-walled terraces that will trap the annual rains, forcing the water to percolate into the soil rather than running off in devastating, ground-ripping flash floods.


“Sisters are doing it for themselves,” says Kidane, a pick-wielding Amazon whose arched eyebrow suggests I might want to put down my camera and do some actual work. Brothers, too: from strapping, sweat-shiny youths to Ephraim, a legless old man who clearly ignored the bit about being able-bodied and sits on his stumps, rolling rocks downhill to the terrace builders.

Overseeing this extraordinary effort is 58-year-old Aba Hawi, Abr’ha Weatsbaha’s community leader. Short, pot-bellied and bearded, he darts from one side of the valley to the other, barking orders into his mobile phone, slapping backs and showing the youngsters the proper way to split half-ton boulders. Rumour has it that Aba Hawi once took up arms to fight for Tigrayan independence, but these days he prefers to describe himself as “just a farmer”.

Read the full article: BBC

Renaissance Dam

Photo credit: Google

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and the Ethiopian Diaspora

Renaissance Dam Historic Accord to be Signed in Khartoum Tomorrow


President Abdul Fatah Al- Sisi of Egypt and Prime Minister Haile Desalgn of Ethiopia are set to arrive in Khartoum tomorrow “Monday” for the signing of the Renaissance Dam historic accord between the Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia, slated for March 23.

Water Resources Minister Mutaz Musa -
Water Resources Minister Mutaz Musa –

Mutaz Musa, Chairman of the Ministerial Board for the Nile Basin States Initiative-cum-Minister of Water Resources and Electricity, has described the document of the declaration of principles on cooperation between the three countries on the Renaissance Dam as a prelude for cooperation and the implementation of the joint sustainable development projects between the three of them.

Minister, Mutaz, has pointed out that the document was the result of industrious work, based on dialogue and consultation.

According to water experts the signing of the document by the three heads of state, will result in cooperation and coordination in the first phase of the filling of the Dam Lake and exchange of information among the three countries.

They also added that the completion of the two remaining studies, as recommended by international experts, will put in place solutions for any negative impacts that could be produced by the dam.

Read the full article: Sudanow

The Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)

Photo credit: Ethiosports

Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia Reach Deal in Principles On Nile Dam


After three days of hard closed-door talks, Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia on Friday reached an agreement in principles on sharing the Nile water and the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The foreign ministers of the three countries, who had been gathering here since Wednesday along with the ministers of water resources, made the announcement and note that the agreement would be submitted to the presidents of the three countries for final approval.

“The agreement among the eastern Nile basin countries made during the ministerial talks on the GERD represents a new page of cooperation among Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia,” said Ali Karti, Sudan’s foreign minister, at a joint press conference.

The Sudanese minister further expressed hope that the agreement would also boost communication, saying “we have to work to surpass the distance between us in the past to achieve maximum utilization of this important resource.”

Read the full article: allAfrica

Boosting production and income of Ethiopian women

Photo credit: FAO

Members of the cooperative whose cactus pear marmalade will soon reach Italian tables.

Ethiopian women cooperative increases incomes thanks to FAO-Eataly partnership

Cactus pear marmalade to join more traditional jams on Italian shelves

A cooperative of women in Ethiopia is set to reach the international market thanks to a partnership between Italian gourmet food store Eataly and FAO.

The two joined forces in 2013 to support family farmers around the globe in boosting their production and finding ways to reach new overseas customers. The work with the women’s cooperative is one example of this collaboration.

For a few years Tsega Gebrekidan Aregawi ran a small kiosk in the northern Ethiopian town of Mekelle, where local university students would stop by to purchase fresh fruit juice, biscuits and homemade marmalades on their way to and from class.

It was a small operation. At that time Tsega could hardly imagine that some of her own products might someday fly from Africa to reach international markets.

But things changed last year when FAO and the Italian food chain Eataly reached out to her and her five-woman cooperative with a challenging offer.

Founded in northern Italy in 2007, Eataly has grown into a global, high-quality food and beverage chain that combines culinary excellence with tradition — with a special focus on small-scale production, sustainability, and fair trade.

FAO and Eataly offered Tsega and her colleagues support in producing more cactus pear marmalade, which would be then bought and shipped to European tables.

The group rose to the challenge. So far, they’ve produced 4,000 jars of marmalade and are now looking at using the revenues to even expanding their output and the variety of what they produce.

To help them in this effort, trainings were organized to help them improve their performance during harvesting as well as to increase their quality standards. The Ministry of agriculture has been providing technical assistance throughout.

A better future

Over the last few months, Tsega and her colleagues have been working hard to produce over 1,500 kg of jam that meet Ethiopian and European food safety standards. The cooperative has also benefited from Eataly’s knowledge sharing on best practices for packaging and marketing and their 4,000 jars of jam are now ready to travel to Rome, where they will soon reach the shelves.

Read the full article: FAO

Reduced crop harvests due to a shortage of rain

Photo credit: Pixabay

Water in Jedana, Ethiopia

Ethiopia | Food/HIV | Food Security | Urban Gardening | Income Generation | Micro Savings

Posted by Tim Magee


Sebeta Town, Ethiopia
Alem Yalew Adela (Ethiopia) and Margie Huang (US/Ethiopia) are working on a Disaster Risk Reduction program and an income generation program with 265 families in Sebeta Town, Ethiopia. Community members suffer from chronic poverty due to lack of sources of income generation and savings/microcredit — and also suffer from reduced crop harvests due to a shortage of rain linked to climate change.

The DRR program is unique in the sense that team Ethiopia intends to hold a participatory workshop with the community members in order to identify their knowledge of risk, vulnerability, and traditional coping techniques related to food security. They will then combine this local knowledge with scientific knowledge in order to present to the community evidence-based techniques that will reduce risk, and prepare them for climate change impacts that might adversely affect the products that they hoping to develop.

One of the main products that they’re hoping to develop are vegetables from urban gardens that local/regional businesses have a demand for.  They’re hoping to partner with these businesses to develop vocational training that will help them develop improved agricultural practices for these which are in demand. Their project also includes developing a demonstration site for these evidence-based techniques that can show others in the community how to increase productivity and how to adapt their production techniques to climate change: proper water utilization and the development of drainage during high rainfall.

The long-term impact of the project is for these community members to have sufficient income to fulfill family need, have increased crop harvests that can adapt to a changing climate, for their children to be able to attend school and for the women could be able to have the health and strength to lead the productive, meaningful, prosperous lives they need to leave the vicious cycle of poverty and contribute to the development of their communities.

Read the full article: CSD-I

The ‘Community-based Natural Resource Management Project’ (IFAD)

Photo credit: Pixabay

Ethiopian farmer

IFAD Project Combats Land Degradation in Ethiopia


An International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-supported project in Ethiopia is making progress in addressing land degradation. The ‘Community-based Natural Resource Management Project,’ located in the watershed of Lake Tana in the northwest of the country focuses on combating land degradation and promoting sustainable land management (SLM) to increase agricultural productivity, household food security, incomes and climate change resilience.

More specifically, it: assists farmers and communities in preserving natural resources and regenerating degraded lands; and aims to manage livestock grazing pastures by establishing ‘no-go areas’ in the most degraded lands, whereby smallholders cut plant material and carry it to the livestock. Through this ‘cut-and-carry’ system, soil erosion caused by over-grazing is reduced and land is able to naturally regenerate. The project includes collaboration with local communities in order to determine which lands are most affected by degradation, which are then fenced off and legally protected against trespassing.

Read more: land-l.iisd


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