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 Hunger  Ethiopia Project #37030

Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa

by Seed Programs International
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Gardens Give Hope, Health, and Income in E. Africa
Transplanting seedlings at Burji
Transplanting seedlings at Burji

Hi folks,

Since our last report, Yohannes and GrowEastAfrica have been laying out the next steps to meet their communities’ greatest needs. Water access understandably continues to be a top priority. Water is scarce in Ethiopia, and water access is critical for everyone — not just farmers. Community leaders are working with GrowEastAfrica toward an exit strategy, toward a time when each community will be self-sustaining and able to weather new challenges.

“What is our long term? To stay with a given community for 3-5 years, then move to another community. We’ve been in Burji working with these IDP families for three years. Southern Ethiopia is a drought-sensitive area. Water is always a challenge, even now. On the land we have, we are lucky because there is a well. As we try to expand, that is the main limiting factor.” — Yohannes Chonde, GEA Co-founder

In addition to your support, we’ve received a generous grant from GlobalGiving to help address drought and famine in East Africa. As part of that grant, we’re taking Yohannes’ lead in how to best use those funds for water access. He’s outlined several possibilities, including digging new wells and piping water to different areas within each community. Currently, rainwater is being caught from roofs and stored, which works when there is rain to catch. However, relying on the weather can hinder crop expansion when the rainy season ends. While wells are a longer-term solution, they are cash-intensive. GrowEastAfrica is trying to balance access for multiple communities with affordability in an area where digging a well can be quite expensive.

We’re also consulting with GrowEastAfrica as advisors to select the most appropriate drought-resistant vegetables. Their programs provide access to resources and skills that alleviate hunger and build livelihoods, and education around nutrition is woven throughout their trainings. Nutrition from vegetables is important for a region whose primary sustenance often comes from grains. While grains can provide a daily meal, Yohannes continues to encourage the communities’ cooperative leaders to make space in their gardens for vegetables.

“In regards to what they are growing right now — whenever I call them and talk to their cooperative leaders — they need to have something to eat at the end of the day. Teff is important in Ethiopia, one of the widely-grown crops. I look at vegetables as an important complement. They need something to eat for survival, and they need to balance their nutrition.” — Yohannes

Applied knowledge is another resource necessary for proper growth and sustainable agriculture. Recently, Fate and the Soyama Women’s Association (who you may remember from our previous report) visited a commercial tomato farm to expand their own farming methods. The farmers toured the greenhouse and saw a demonstration about seedlings grown in trays that will be transplanted into an open garden. They discussed various growing components like soil health, protection against disease, and nutrient demands. Finally, they discussed the differences between conventional and hydroponic tomato growing methods.

Rather than growing all of their vegetables from seed, the cooperatives have begun collaborating with the Meki commercial farm to adopt planting seedlings grown in trays. This provides a more controlled environment and increases the likelihood that seeds will grow into healthy plants. Seeds are provided to the Meki farm, and seedlings are returned to the cooperatives in Burji. Attached to this report, you can see some of the seedlings being packaged for transport.

Farming is hard work that requires both manual labor and expertise — these resources are not a handout. GrowEastAfrica’s programs strive not only to provide access to resources, but also to educate and train farmers who can pass on their knowledge and training to other farmers. As a result, these IDP communities have produced healthy food for themselves and have also sold some of their harvests to provide meaningful income. Money can be saved for the lean season and also reinvested in the next planting. They’ve created a cycle of self-sufficiency that will provide a strong foundation for generations to come.

We appreciate your support of Seed Programs International and Garden’s Give Hope, Health, and Income in East Africa. Thank you from us, our partners, and the farmers whose lives have changed because of your generosity!

The SPI Team

Soyama Ladies Assoc. visiting Meki Commercial Farm
Soyama Ladies Assoc. visiting Meki Commercial Farm
Using oxen to prepare the field, Spring 2019
Using oxen to prepare the field, Spring 2019
Laying drip lines, planting seedlings, Spring 2019
Laying drip lines, planting seedlings, Spring 2019
Packaging seedlings for transport from Meki
Packaging seedlings for transport from Meki
Fate harvesting corn in a Grow East Africa field.
Fate harvesting corn in a Grow East Africa field.

Hi folks,

We're happy to open this project on a bright note by featuring the continued work of Grow East Africa, our local partner in Ethiopia. One purpose of this project is to increase long-term resilience to climate change, social crisis, and political crisis for communities most vulnerable to upheaval. Grow East Africa is doing just that!

Grow East Africa is an Ethiopian-American led organization working with about 1,000 families at a crossroads for Kenyan - Ethiopian IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons). Co-Founder Yohannes Chonde understands the families' journey, the experience of displacement, and what they need to be successful because may of the families come from his ancestral home, Burji District.

We recently heard from Wato Seif, a Grow East Africa Officer, who shared what it was like to be displaced:

“Not many years have passed since we became internally displaced, leaving our homes and properties, and escaping with just the shirts on our backs and the few belongings we were able to carry. Upon arrival, we found ourselves in the midst of a different culture, a foreign language, and hardships from lack of shelter and ownership of land necessary for an agrarian society.”

Wato continues, talking about his work with Grow East Africa and plans for the future:

“Thanks to the local communities, Soyama Ladies Association, Burji District management, and assistance from our local son Dr. Yohannes Chonde and SPI, we are starting to turn our lives on the path of recovery. With the newly installed solar energy powered drip irrigation system, we are set to plant vegetable year round. We have harvested abundant yields of quinoa and teff. The vegetables (tomatoes, cabbage, chard, carrots, and onions) are growing well and show promise for a good yield. The abundant harvest will be able to feed our children and enable them to attend school. The excess produce will be sold on the local market, and the income will be reinvested into the project to further our efforts in self-sufficiency. We tirelessly strive to contribute to the wellbeing of our new community by introducing nutritional vegetables and quinoa to the diet of the residents, especially for the children and pregnant women. This where we want to be, a place and situation where we can build a future that is sustainable.”

It might be easy to underestimate what gardens can mean for someone who has been displaced. Fate is a farmer with Grow East Africa who has stepped into leadership through her participation in Grow East Africa's garden project. She shares, beautifully:

“Just a few years ago, we were a community that was worried about what we would eat tomorrow and what the future looks like. … Today, not only are we growing our own food, but we're making plans for the future of our people and our community. … Thank you for choosing to invest in our community and in our well-being.”

Grow East Africa has already accomplished important work with these IDP communities, and their vision is broad. Yohannes outlined the next steps for GEA in a recent conversation with SPI Program Director, Naima Dido. As they prepare for the planting season with the Mega women's group, GEA will conduct a water access assessment and test the soil health. They'll also begin offering farmer training to establish individual livelihoods. Finally, four women will participate in advanced training to train future farmer trainers with an agronomist instructor who will travel to their villages for two sessions of four-week trainings.

Gardens are providing GEA farmers with new livelihoods, a crucial component for long-term resilience against upheaval and crisis. By offering agricultural training, water access, and extension support, GEA ensures that farmers and farmer trainers will have the skills and tools they need to facilitate the wellbeing of the whole community for generations to come.

Your support helps provide trainings like this, which develop local leaders and put economic power into women's hands. From our partners, their farmers, and our team — thank you!

The SPI Team

Preparing seedlings for relocation.
Preparing seedlings for relocation.
Fate working with young cabbage.
Fate working with young cabbage.
Fate monitoring the onion and carrot patch
Fate monitoring the onion and carrot patch
 

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Organization Information

Seed Programs International

Location: Asheville, NC - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Greg Bonin
Asheville, NC United States
$10,211 raised of $20,500 goal
 
35 donations
$10,289 to go
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