|The reconstruction and rehabilitation of a rainwater harvesting dam at Halhal in Eritrea’s Keren Province has had a huge impact on the lives of the entire community in this remote mountain town.|
A programme of repairs were carried out to the dam wall, which had been leaking badly, while Self Help has also helped the community to build a drinking well, and develop a seven hectare irrigated horticultural plot.
The irrigated plot, with more than 400 metres of cement built channels and sluice gates has been sub-divided into plots for 14 local farmers, who have been growing tomato, potato, hot pepper, okra, swiss chard, lettuce, cabbage and onion since its development.
The benefits of this are not only seen in the improved living conditions of the 14 beneficiary families, for it has also resulted in a wide array of seasonal vegetables becoming available to the wider community in Halhal’s market for the first time.
The benefit of the dam re-development project is most pronounced for local livestock farmers however, and a recent examination of usage showed that several thousand livestock owners in the catchment area were now watering their animals at the Halhal dam.
Several other farmers in the locality have become engaged in irrigated farming since the intervention too, with a number taking out loans to purchase small water pumps to assist with the irrigation of their own properties.
‘In an area such as Halhal there are only seasonal rivers, and the chances of finding water underground are extremely limited’, says Self Help’s project manager Basilios Sagay says. ‘Rainwater is by far the best option, and to be able to store run-off from the surrounding hillsides is the most cost effective and the most practical way to address water needs’.
Much of the work on the project, including the terraced stone walls and check dams on the neighbouring hillsides have been built with local voluntary labour – to serve the multiple purposes of diverting rainfall into the dam pond, to retain top soil on the hillside during the often torrential rains, and to thus prevent the rapid silting of the pond itself.
Self Help Africa in Eritrea
|Self Help Africa began working in Uganda in the late 1990's, with a pilot programme to distribute seed potatoes in famine affected areas.|
Since then a series of new area based projects - at Mendefera, Emni Haili, Keren, and Gogne have been implemented.