“We’re not just giving training and seeds or cows. We are helping Ethiopian farmers to understand their potential, and the potential of their land. We are opening up their eyes and their minds.”
Aklilu Dogisso, Country Director, Send a Cow Ethiopia
Millions of Ethiopians rely on food aid between harvests – even in a good year. When the rains fail, as is happening more and more often, many face starvation.
With Send a Cow training, thousands of farmers are now learning to break free of this cycle. They are producing food all year round – despite the growing pressures on their land from environmental challenges and rising populations.
Our focus here is on training in natural resource management. That means enabling farmers to make the best use of soil, rainfall and livestock to develop a productive farming system that does not harm the fragile environment.
Most families already own livestock, so we provide few animals. Instead, farmers learn how to manage their livestock better, so they stay healthy and productive.
“Thanks to my training, I have terraced that hillside and planted it with grasses which feed my animals besides protecting the soil.”
On marrying, Debissa Kustie had mixed feelings about one particular wedding gift. A tiny, infertile hillside plot inherited from his father. Job opportunities beyond farming were non existent in the region, yet the soils were so depleted it was practically impossible to grow anything. Without this land though, how else would he make a living? Debissa resigned himself to a life of struggle – unaware that the backbreaking work he would undertake was, in part, responsible for accelerating the degradation of his land.
In 2006 Debissa gained the knowledge necessary to reverse this situation when he received training from Send a Cow. He has since rejuvenated his plot using compost made from his animals’ manure and terraced the land to help prevent his now fertile soil running off the hillside during the rains.
In particular, Debissa has utilised Send a Cow’s innovative keyhole technology in order to start growing vegetables – something previously thought impossible in the region. Debissa is now seen as a bit of a local legend – not only growing enough vegetables to support his own family throughout the annual “three months of hunger” but also those of his neighbours.
“The training I have received helped me to do things in a better and more productive way. Now I am somebody. My income is good. The nutritional status of my family has improved…[and] my children will get the chance to attend school. I am very encouraged by the changes happening in my farm and aspire to do better and better. I now have big dreams for the future.”