“We got rain a week ago, but before then, it’s been a long time. That’s why our crops are failing and our productivity is low.”
Serif Lulseged, a father of four and a small-scale farmer, cultivates sorghum, soybeans and maize on a small plot in Metta district in eastern Ethiopia. He also chairs the Hake village cluster, a community of 7 villages where most people depend on subsistence farming. He represents his community—about 900 families,—advocating for them with local government. Recurring drought, and shortages of drinking water and food are among their challenges.
“There is climate change,” he says. “Earlier in our lives, especially during the dry season, there was no rain [in May] but these days, after planting trees, we unexpectedly received rain. Our weather predictions aren’t as good as our forefathers’. It’s difficult to predict.”
To help address these issues, Serif’s community was selected to benefit from a CRS project called REAAP—which stands for Resilience through Enhanced Adaptation, Action-learning and Partnershi pproject and is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The project will help nearly half a million people mitigate the devastating effects of climate change, adapt new farming techniques, like using hillside terraces, and create action plans to decrease the risk of climate-related disaster.
“It prevents our land from being eroded. The water that accumulates comes down and can be used for irrigation. It also keeps our land from being flooded. This type of terracing is different from our forefathers’. They only used soil. We now use stones and it can last longer,” Serif explains.
“Climate change has changed the way we’re cultivating our crops. It’s different now. For example, this month we’re going to plant because of the early rain. But it suddenly stopped, so our crop may fail.”
The terracing is part of a previous CRS watershed management project in East Hararghe. In addition, families received monthly food rations for 6 months, and 3 months of cash assistance.
“So many people in need have benefited from CRS projects and we expect to gain more and different knowledge from REAAP. That’s the support we want. We need much more knowledge and we want to be self-sufficient, and not only be supported. Food assistance is important but we don’t want to rely on it. We want to be self-sufficient, with good knowledge. And if [REAAP] provides us a variety of drought-tolerant seeds and edible fruits to be planted here in my district, it would help some of the food shortage problems.”
Kim Pozniak is a CRS communications officer covering sub-Saharan Africa and global emergencies. She is based in Baltimore, Maryland.
Tags: climate change
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