Terraced mountainsides growing a range of crops – cereals, forage and vegetables like carrot and garlic that the people had never seen before; and a wide variety of trees (even apples!) – are a common sight in Yewol today. While that’s how the fields look like, the homesteads too have gone for a change and new breeds of livestock can be spotted. Surplus fodder and crop produce from this region making its way to nearby markets is beginning to catch up.
How it used to be
Five years ago, the scenario was totally different. The agro-pastoral communities found it difficult to grow even their staple crops – barley, wheat, teff, lentils, faba bean and peas. When it rained, which most often is heavy during the months of July to September, rainwater gushed down the slopes carrying with it great amounts of soil and vegetation. Soil erosion coupled with free grazing of animals and long spells of ‘unexpected’ drought degraded the land so much that their crops began to dwindle along with their livestock. Migration was the only way out for some of them. Food shortage stalked the residents and it still is a reality for some all year through and for some during the dry season.
What was done
At a time when the people were struggling with the situation, an initiative was started by concerned local researchers with the support of the government. The project brought in the needed change among communities to join hands and work together to replenish the dwindling resources of their homeland, Yewol, which in Amharic means ‘for all of us’!
*United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification 14th session of the Conference of Parties ICRISAT is participating on September 2nd in a side event – Applying the Research in Development Approach to Scale Land Restoration and achieve the LDN targets