|Watershed management initiatives being undertaken by Self Help in Ethiopia have rehabilitated large tracts of land, and tackled the challenge of improving access to groundwater for local communities.|
Sites that had become degraded as a result of woodland clearance, overgrazing and other pressures were the target of a broad programme of activities carried out by local villagers, following consultation, sensitisation and training provided by programme staff.
In the Fendisha area of Self Help’s Alemaya II project a severely eroded gulley and more than 60 hectares of land was rehabilitated – with a range of soil conservation measures being put into place including the construction of check dams, soil bunds, and an extensive planting programme undertaken.
A total of 50,000 seedlings were provided by the project for the work, which saw acacia saligna, saspania saspan, pigeon pea, gravilia, elephant grass, Rhodes grass and vetiver all being planted in the eroded area, while fruit trees including guava and papaya seedlings were also distributed.
The eroded gulley area was also the subject of other direct rehabilitative measures, with two large dam walls and associated constructions being built by villagers with materials and technical support from Self Help staff.
These have had the result of trapping water within the gulley area, and at the same time retaining silt and soil, and reinstating soil within a ravine that in many areas had reached bed-rock.
A community based management committee has been elected to oversee the area being rehabilitated, and is charged with ensuring that villagers do not graze their livestock within the 60 hectare site while the process of restoration is underway. ‘No animals are permitted within the area at this early stage in the process, but farmers can go into the enclosed area and cut fodder from a number of species of trees which we have planted’, Kebede Gudissa, Self Help's natural resources officer says.
Water from the dammed area has became available to local farmers to irrigate their adjoining fields however, while tests carried out to the water table show that ground water is now being found at a level of 10-15 metres below ground – as compared to a depth of over 30 metres, which it had fallen to prior to the watershed management project.
Meanwhile, in an associated activity over 40 families in the Fendisha area have been supported with loans and with training to begin new income generating activities. Under this scheme six local women have used loans to purchase goats for fattening, while others have become involved in vegetable production and other activities. As well as having two goats, widowed mother of eight Amena Aimar has become involved in sorghum and vegetable production, after receiving training and seed stock from the Self Help project.
Self Help Africa in Ethiopia
|Self Help Africa began working in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s, and the organisation's model for integrated rural development programmes was first developed in the country.|
The organisation is currently engaged in implementing a series of area based programmes, and measures to build capacity at regional level, so that communities can improve their lives and the living standards and conditions of their people.