|The modest, tin roofed rectangular dwellings within which each of their families reside is a lasting testimony to the success of Mendefera’s ‘group of five’.|
A hard-working and committed group of neighbours who came together in a joint venture when the Self Help project first came to Adi Mongoti in the late 1990’s, Mendefera's group of five are a living and vivid example of how a secure water supply can completely transform an Eritrean family’s life.
All five members of the group had been employed as general, and often part-time labourers, until they received the backing of Self Help,and the necessary credit that was required to allow them to buy a shared water pump.
They set to a long and laboriously three month process of hand-digging a 12 metre deep well, and as soon as the pump was installed began to develop extensive irrigated gardens and plots – from which they sold surplus onions, tomatoes, pepper and other produce in the local markets.
At the height of their activities the group had a massive 68 hectares under crops of vegetables, and were operating three separate pumps to provide the necessary irrigation. By their own calculations they were each earning upwards of 10,000 nakfa (€550) from their yields each harvest, a sum which could be repeated twice yearly – to leave them with earnings far greater than the annual average salary.
The profits allowed each of the group members to invest in the materials necessary to construct better quality dwellings for their families and in the case of group member Gebre Hiwat, gave him the money needed to purchase a number of dairy cows.
‘Each of them is now involved in helping others to develop irrigated farming systems', says Self Help Africa's project manager Guoy Gebre.