By Kebede Lulie on April 8, 2015
The Sekota district is a highly drought-prone district of Amhara region in Ethiopia. Almost every year there is not enough rainfall to grow food for all the residents. In the early eighties, thousands died due to hunger, starvation and malnutrition-related diseases. But things have changed.
Meet Adane Berihanu.
He is a 38-year-old father of two children. He lives in Chochorba village in the Sekota district. He says, “I am not ashamed of calling myself a child of a poor family. As far as I can remember my parents used to receive food aid. I never went to school because my parents were too poor to send me to school.”
Through a USAID-funded program, eligible beneficiaries work on rugged mountains doing different physical activities like hillside terracing and planting trees to save the remaining soil from further erosion. In return, participants get food aid or cash for six months or more, depending on the amount of food produced in the district, to fill the food gap for their family.
Adane says, “Since 2011, our efforts bore fruit, and long-dried water springs [have] regenerated in the Chorchoba catchment. As the water started to flow in the valley, we requested Food for the Hungry (FH) and the Organization for Rehabilitation and Development of Amhara (ORDA) to divert the stream to our farmland. Along the valley there are more than 70 young and adult farmers who produce their own crops using this irrigation.”
He added that in addition to the food aid he received from FH and ORDA, he also worked various labor jobs to fill the food gap for his family. Now he works his farm year-round and has started harvesting different vegetables, sugarcane and grains for family consumption and for the market. His irrigated farm now has a year-round water supply and each hour of the day is valuable to Adane. So he has no time to squander his income at bars and inns as many farmers used to do.
Adane says, “I planted fruit trees like avocado, papaya, guava, coffee and banana, along with vegetables and sugarcane. Vegetables and sugarcane [crops] are short-seasoned and can satisfy immediate food and cash needs for my family. Fruit trees are planted for my old age. Thanks to God, I now produce enough food for my family and can even sell to the market. I became food self-sufficient and graduated from the safety net program since 2012. I need no more external food aid. Starting in February 2015, many families in our village are suffering from food shortage and seeking food aid, but I have enough produce at my farm to feed my family and sell to the market. My first-born daughter is 6-years-old and started going to kindergarten this year. My second child is 3-years-old and all of them get enough varieties of food at home.”