Build victory gardens for 200 Ethiopian students

by Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB), University of Colorado at Boulder
the clay pot installation layout
the clay pot installation layout

Dear supporters

Your support of the  Victory gardens project is developing an wider intereste that can potential be useful to upscale it to a wider application and diffusion. The Mater thesis on the use of clay pots that was inspired by the project has become fruitfull.

Amanuel Gebru has been a volunteer at out victory gardens project in Ethiopia. He was inspired by the concept of the Victory Gardens project because he saw the potential transformative ability of the concept of using water filled buried clay pots as efficient irrigation technologies to grow fruits and vegetables in the dry-lands. The technology helps communities to produce fruits and vegetables and lead to food and livelihood security. As last reported the volunteer was admitted to the Masters Program at the Ethiopian Institute for Climate and Society at Mekelle University.

Amanuel decided to contribute to the idea of the project by choosing his MSC thesis on the design of locally made clay pots (bar-shaped) and economic potential to grow vegetables. The title of his thesis is “Evaluating water and economic productivity of bar shaped clay pot irrigation technology under small scale Swiss chard, pepper and tomato growers’ condition in northern Ethiopia.” He has now completed his thesis and successfully defended it on June 14th, 2015.

The objective of his thesis is “to assess the yield response, water productivity and economic performance of a bar shaped clay pot design for selected vegetables”. The specific objectives have been “to compare the yield and yield component responses of bar shaped clay pot sub-surface and furrow irrigation system by comparing the water productivity of bar shaped clay pot and furrow irrigation and to compare the economic performance of bar shaped clay pot irrigation and furrow irrigation application”. Amanuel’s field site was in a plot located at Mekelle University and harvested vegetables multiple times in a year and collected detailed data to compare the productivity of clay pot irrigation and conventional watering system on crop yields as well as water saving.

The planting procedure used was vegetable seeds and seedlings were planted at “0.05 m apart from the wall of the pots in both sides in the case of Swiss chard and one side of the pot in pepper and tomato. The furrow has also its own dimension and it was similar in both tomato and pepper that is 0.2 m width of lower furrow and 0.3 m upper width and the plant was placed at an average 0.25m. Whereas 0.1m width of lower furrow and 0.2m upper width of the furrow then seed were dropped at 0.15 m width of the furrow in the case of Swiss chard.” Here are the findings of Amanuel’s research research.

  • The yield increased in clay pot by 51%, 32% and 30% in Swiss chard, tomato and pepper respectively.
  • Water saving capability was 40.55%, 41.74% and 41.18% in Swiss chard, tomato and pepper respectively
  • Water productivity of bar shaped clay pot was 10.9 kg/m3, 4.17 kg/m3 and 1.83 kg/m3 in Swiss chard, tomato and pepper correspondingly that is by far superior than furrow irrigation practice

Economic return of clay pot in Swiss chard with net benefit of 374,761.8, 226,066.2 in tomato and 182, 846 Ethiopian birr in pepper and this was much higher than the net benefit from furrow irrigation practice after six season harvest by forecasting

This is very important for the diffusion of the technology with multiple effects. The clay pots for the research were made by a local rural woman. The findings are great confirmations to the extension community and development agents to share with farmers to improve their income and diversify their family nutrition. We would like to thank you

Amanuel's main advisor was Dr. Araya Alemie of Mekelle University and the research and Amanuel's study was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation grant.  He is also gratefull to Dr. Amanuel Abraha, Director of the Ethiopian Institue for Climate and Society for his support and leadership.

Again, thank you for your usual support.

after plantation of the vegetables
after plantation of the vegetables
Bar shaped buried clay pots-A. Gebru
Bar shaped buried clay pots-A. Gebru's experiment

Dear supporters

The project you have been supporting, building victory gardens....has began to impact schools of higher education in the region. It has influenced a research interest at Mekelle University’s Ethiopian Institute for Climate and Society (ICS). Amanuel Gebru, a former development practitioner in one of the local NGOs and an active volunteer in our project has been admitted to the Climate and Society Masters program in  2013/14.. I met Amanuel in December when I visited Mekelle University to teach Sustainable Development to the incoming graduate students. Amanuel took the time to take me to his experimental site (see picture). I also read his draft proposal and discussed his planned experiment on the effectiveness of the clay pot irrigaiton system. He wants to test a bar-shaped clay pot design instead of the traditional round clay pot. The bar shaped clay pot for the experiment is also manufactured by traditional female potter in the nearby village.

When completed, the research output will have a positive impact on the diffusion of the buried clay pot irrigation method. It will also contribute to the sustainability of the idea and help for a successful climate change adaptation and food security in this arid area and beyond. Amanuel’s hypothesis is that “water filled and buried clay pot irrigation technology could play a big role under climate variability in producing more crop even under drought conditions and high transpiration” is an idea whose time has come. Amanuel believes that the bar shaped clay pot might be the best design and efficient irrigation system. Lets hope that he comes up with a successful positive outcome from his research.

Amanuel’s research is progressing with a test site that was assigned to him by Mekelle University. He will ‘attempt to map area suitability of clay pot technology, test the bar shaped clay pot design and see profitability of the technology on the targeted research area. Amanuel's lead thesis advisor Dr. Araya A. Berhe of the ICS is very optimistic about the research outcome. We wish Amanuel the best of lack and also thank you for his volunteering on the project. We will keep you updated on the success of the research.

This implies that your support to the project through is having a larger impact beyond the  students in the village.

Again, thank you for the support. Happy Spring to you and your loved ones!

the in situ water harvesting system is still wet
the in situ water harvesting system is still wet

Dear supporters,

Greetings. I hope all is well with you and your loved ones during this holiday season.

I recently travelled to the village of Atebes, taking another opportunity that took to Ethiopia. I visited the victory garden project on Saturday, November 29. I interacted with the participants and learned both the positive developments and the things that requir for sustainability. Many respondents that I met said that they are beinning to harvest apple fuits. The number of fruits harvested rainged from 20 to 180 fruits. This is an outstanding achievement thanks to your support and the dedication of the  articipants and our volunteers. In 2010 no one has even seen an apple tree or fruit and after 4 years people have began to eat the fruits. We plan to give awareness on marketing opportunities in 2015 so that the expected surplus is sold in the market. 

The other issues we observed include bird attackes that have destroyed the fruits even before they are ripe.  We plan to search ways to protect the plants from birds using both traditonal and moder ways in 2015.

We observed the availability of water from the various water harvesting systems.  All families we talked to stated that they did not travel to the remote valleys to collect water due to the revitalized streams.  An important promising development is the new focus by the local government in watershade mangement in the village including terracing and afforestation.This are very positive developments that can contribute to sustainability if they are fully implemented.

Some of the constraints we observed include lack of fruit tree management such as pruning as well access to the market. The apples need to be pruned and this requires additional follow up and continued training. We can also inject sustainability by introducing market information thorough training.  

The bushes are invading the apple trees in the demonstration site due to neglect tied to the lack of incentives by the guards. Many individuals who did receive apple seedlings prevously  are also requesting and the potential for expansion is huge.


gabion wires bought by the project are installed
gabion wires bought by the project are installed
VG project water harvesting system full of water
VG project water harvesting system full of water
Selam drying the clothes she washed
Selam drying the clothes she washed

Dear Supporters,

Greetings. I hope you all have a great summer. 

We are trying to connect our project participants with other similar development activities in the area. Recently, we had preliminary dicussion with a ICRAF/Ethiopia on the potential of training our project participants on how to grow seedlings so that they can sell to farmers in neighboring villages and increase their income. When the project materializes they will get additional and quick source of income. The innovation of growing fruit trees in dry areas will also spread to other villages leading to the improvement of their food security and sustainability.

The goal of fund raising to complet out project is not yet achieved. We are counting on your continued support to accomplish out objectives. Thank you very much.

Dear supporters,

Our pilot project on the use of clay pots for irrigation system as a climate change adaptation tool to improve food security in  vulnerbales communities in the dry lands has caught the attention of the University of Colorado's INSTAAR. The news update was written by Shelly Sommeron INSTAAR's  website on April 4 2014. The article is titled "Apples in Atebes: Cultivating Climate resilience in an Ethiopian Village. The article is a testament to the impact of our supporters that icnlude you and our volunteers in Ethiopia. We lookforward for your feedback on the article.

Again, we would like to thank you, our esteemed supporters and look forward to your continued support until we reach out goal. I hope that you will distribute the article to your friends, familes and colleagues so that we can reach our goal.




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Project Leader:
Tsegay Wolde-Georgis
Boulder, CO United States
2016 Year End Campaign
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$9,410 raised of $30,000 goal
230 donations
$20,590 to go
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