Hagereselam Updates Deutsch
Collective efforts have paid off wonderfully!
At the end of 2014, EE board members Thomas Baumann, Lesley Stephenson and Tatjana Meier made their second visit to Hagereselam in 2014. They were accompanied by the lucky summer raffle winner of our Ethiopia prize trip, photographer Robert Bellamy. EE president Thomas Baumann’s comment following the trip sums up the progress which the group observed in Hagereselam: ‘We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve been there, but what we can say is that we have never come back feeling so satisfied and optimistic as on this visit. Of course the positive impact of the various project initiatives was evident a long time ago, but last year’s scant rainfall put a spanner in the works because we had all been hoping for even better results. But this year is different. The rainfall was good and the farmers will reap a rich harvest which will allow them to build reserves.’
The Hagereselam project has gone from strength to strength in the past 18 months, and is now moving towards its maturity phase. The impact of the recultivation of the hillsides and the water storage measures are clearer than ever this year, especially after a good rainfall in 2014. This is extremely motivating for all concerned, especially the farmers who again worked extremely hard throughout the year. The water table has risen further, as has the soil’s ability to absorb water.
The battle against erosion continues to show success, and the ability of the Hagereselam region to store rainwater more efficiently has now opened promising potential in the area of man-made irrigation. In this connection, a sub-project will be carried out in 2015 with a small additional budget.
Efforts to establish beekeeping in Hagereselam have been successful. There are now five beekeepers’ cooperatives in the region, and all of them have organized themselves impressively from both a financial point of view and from the perspective of workload sharing. At the same time, the model rural farmsteads are success stories which have inspired other farmers in the region.
Ethiopian Enterprises has continued to work with the local school, and matched the school community’s contribution to repairing a damaged schoolroom roof just a few weeks ago. Appreciation of our work for Hagereselam has received growing recognition in the community as the farmers see our continued presence and contributions to their growing self-reliance.
For more details of this visit, please contact us for a copy of our latest Newsletter from December 2014.
Phase I of our Hagereselam Project reached completion in April 2013
The initial three-year phase of our Hagereselam project has ended, and the results are significant. Within just three years, the lives of the farming families in Hagereselam have improved considerably. In the event of another catastrophe such as a famine caused by a long-lasting drought, the villagers in this area would no longer starve. The eco-system is far more resilient than at beginning of the project and, most importantly, the villagers have learned to appreciate the qualities of the prickly pear cactus. While some project objectives were not fulfilled in every detail, the latter overriding goal was reached.
A great deal was achieved throughout the entire first project phase (2010-2012). The list below shows some of the most important steps taken during this period.
- 290 farmers participated in experience- and awareness transfer excursions
- 13 Communal Development Groups were established with 141 members
- 180 km of dry walls were built or repaired
- 225 ha of hillside land was measured and allocated to landless farmers
- 36‘400 prickly pear cactus- and 82‘000 elephant grass seedlings were planted
- 2 x 500 m of the erosion gully were repaired, stabilized and planted
- 30 households received roofwater-collection tanks and now have access to water in their homes
- Drought-resistant plants were allocated to 482 households
Given the above, we have now begun the second, four-year project phase, as we consider it important to continue with the work which has begun so well. It is too early to leave the farmers in Hagereselam on their own. Phase II will build logically and consistently on the achievements of Phase 1.
Please see the business report 2012, in which we review the first phase in more detail.
Project Update June 2012
The acceptance of the project interventions by the farmers of Hagereselam has increased with their growing understanding of the benefits involved. However, building an autonomous farmers’ association which should independently administer and develop the watershed region remains work in progress. Nevertheless, although the relevant regional coordination has proved slow and stony, project leaders and partners still plan the foundation of a ‘Watershed Association.’
The re-cultivation of the hillsides surrounding the three villages in Hagereselam has been a resounding success. The farmers have worked hard on building the necessary stone terraces, and the quality of their work has reached consistently high standards. This terracing and replanting is a prerequisite for successful rehabilitation of the farming plains below the hills. Rapid plant growth and the return of fauna to the hillside regions will facilitate planned initiatives to produce honey. Honey is extremely popular, and is also a lucrative source of income for the farmers. Repair of the erosion gully remained below expectations last year in terms of the length of the repaired area: only 200 of the planned 500 meters were completed. However, in the meantime the farmers have learned from errors that were made and should be able to make more rapid progress this year.
The cultivation of prickly pear cactus in the hillsides was only partly successful. In some areas, the plants developed well and produced fruit, in others the seedlings were damaged by wild animals, stray livestock, etc. However, the acceptance of the cactus as a source of food for the farmers and their farmers has greatly improved, and has heightened the level of food security in the community.
A further highlight of the project is the water collection system developed by Helvetas Ethiopia. This ‘roof-water harvesting system’ is likely the best in all Tigray. Thanks to the successful introduction of the system in the project regions, a further 70 tanks were financed by the Swiss organization, DEZA. 62 of the planned 85 units were already up and running at the time of our visit. In addition, tanks with increased storage capacity (7.3 m3) are now available for the same price as the first generation tanks. If one of these larger tanks is filled 1.3 times per year as expected, it will provide 25 litres of drinking water per day per household.
Progress with the large 85m3 water collection ponds has fallen short of our expectations, however. The work involved was simply too much of a burden for individual farming families. In line with our project principles, the farmers themselves must shoulder a lot of the physical work involved in the project, but the digging required for the ponds was beyond their capacity. Only one pond has been completed, and the strategies for this initiative are now under review.
We are now entering the final six months of Phase I of our Hagereselam project. Many steps have been initiated and successfully implemented. While some ambitious goals have not yet been fully met, we are convinced that the project components are appropriate and that we are on the right track. We have taken a large step towards the fulfilment of our umbrella goal, namely, to ensure food security for the community of Hagereselam.
You can find a detailed report of the project status in the August 2012 Newsletter
Project update November 2011
In the past six months, we have taken further steps towards fulfilling our goal of developing model farms which are economically viable and sufficiently attractive for young farmers. A local production team which can produce concrete tanks for roof-water harvesting at reasonable prices has been built up. 12 roof-water harvesting systems are planned for Hagereselam this year, five of which are already in operation. Having water in their homes for the very first time represents a huge breakthrough for the relevant farming families. Water is also fundamentally important for growing crops. Just as the smaller water tanks will be used for household use, larger water-collection units or ponds will be used in the fields. So far, four of the ten planned ponds are under construction. The required effort will be large, but worthwhile, because the productivity of the land can be increased considerably with a pond full of water.
The work on the erosion gully has progressed and brought the desired results. Instead of the bare, dry area on which we worked with the farmers in April, we found an area which looked like an oasis covered with shoulder-high elephant grass rustling in the wind. Although the farmers had only treated the first 200 metres of the gully, a good start has been made. The farmers can now see that the concept of gully treatment can be realized, and that the work pays huge dividends, also in Hagereselam. They are now highly motivated to treat the next sections of the gully.
Our Hagereselam project is progressing well, and all project concepts which have been initiated so far have proven appropriate and successful. We are particularly pleased that a decision has now also been made to upscale two of the project components. At the same time, we have learned that certain aspects of the project require more time than anticipated, such as community sensitization processes. This is important, given that sensitive decisions with far-reaching consequences are involved. However, we remain confident that the project goals can and will be reached by the end of the relevant project phases.
In the hills surrounding Hagereselam, work on the terraces as well as planting has continued, and the quality of this work has been excellent. The new terraces will now be planted with fig cactus (Beles), and progress since last year has been striking. It is amazing to see how quickly Nature can recover, even in a dry, drought-prone area like Tigray. A further 100 hectares of hillside land was measured and earmarked for allocation, and half this land was allocated to local farmers in the first half of this year (particularly landless farmers).
Overall we are pleased with the status of the project, even though one or two of the goals for 2011 have not yet been fully reached. However, we need to remember that Mother Nature is part of the equation, and often resists planning! As you may remember, last year the area was treated to above-average rainfall, but this year it received just enough. Not only that, but we need to give the farmers sufficient time to debate sensitive decisions. Such decisions will have far-reaching consequences for Hagereselam.
A detailed project status report can be found in our EE Newsletter 2011 II
Project update “Hagereselam” January 2011
After the completion of the work in the hillsides above Hagereselam last year, the rehabilitation work at the erosion gully has now started. The work at the first lot (500m of 1.5km in total) is already well advanced, as the pictures show. Once the side wall slopes are reshaped in a 45 degree angle, trenches will be dug in which elefant grass will be planted. Until the start of the rainy season in early summer, the seedlings have to be watered by hand so that they are strong enough to withstand the heavy rains during the rainy season.
Project update “Hagereselam” November 2010
The first project phase – the development of the organisational structure – is largely complete. Despite the huge time pressure created by the early onset of the wet season, this year’s fixed goals were largely fulfilled. First of all, 13 men and 2 women from Hagereselam were taken on an excursion to various watershed areas which had been rehabilitated in earlier years. There, these villagers were able to see just how their land will look in another 2 years’ time, and they were thrilled. At the same time, 100 hectares of hillside land in Hagereselam were measured using GPS technology under the control of the relevant administrative body. Legally binding land-use rights were then issued to the farmers.
In the second project phase, the first important steps in this year’s planned field work were implemented. In order to reduce the pressure on the erosion gully in the valley, water run-off in the hillsides during the wet season has to be slowed down. In order to achieve this, the farmers terraced nearly 21 kilometres of hillside land with stone walls. In a next step, they dug a total length of 7 kilometres of ditches in which the rainwater can collect and slowly drain instead of flowing fast and uncontrolled down the hillsides. While this work was very hard for the farmers, their wives and children, the first rewards are already visible in the form of renewed plant growth and positive changes in the water flow.
The introduction of drought-resistant plants, e.g. Beles (fig cactus) , Australian saltbush and others, has already begun. This third project phase will be fully implemented in the coming year when the erosion gully has been reshaped, and its walls protected and stabilized. The terraced hillsides are now ready for planting, and the farmers will soon begin with intensive honey production.
The development of the farmsteads will be a central theme in 2012. Nevertheless, various solutions are already being tested for the catchment of roof water run-off in the wet season, cooking with solar energy, improved grain storage, etc.
Overall, the project is on track in terms of both field work and costs. Any variation between the budget for 2010 and the actual total costs for 2010 will be minimal.