Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cutting the Ribbon on Resilience: Ethiopia #11

The Women Greet Us
We probably would have stayed and listened to the women sing all day – basking in their joyful song and taking pictures of their colourful clothing. “They are waiting for you to cut the ribbon,” Belayneh whispered to me. Belayneh is our principal guide from the Hararghe Diocese. “They have been fasting all day, so we don’t want to keep them too long.” It is Ramadan in an area that is 90% Muslim.  I realized they were not going to stop singing until the ribbon was cut.

These women and their husbands (also here) are pastoralists and agro-pastoralists. They live in temporary houses and follow their herds of sheep, goats, cattle and camels (have we ever seen a lot of camels!) Those that are agro-pastoralists are also starting to farm some crops and stay in one place for longer periods of time. For both groups of people, animal health is vital to their livelihoods. Until now getting access to health-care for their animals has been difficult. That is why we are here.
Two members of our National Council, Elizabeth and Rose-Marie, come forward with the scissors and cut the red ribbon. There is clapping and even louder singing. The new animal health post of the Shek Medobe Kebele has been inaugurated!

Receiving the kits.
We pour into the health post yard and gather in front of the building where medical supplies are kept. The project is not merely about building physical infrastructure, but human infrastructure as well. We next hand over animal care kits to seven ‘community-based animal health workers’ (which they call cbahws for short – ‘k-bahs’) Each kit costs appx. $300USD and includes everything from medicines and animal syringes, to a rather mean looking apparatus for castration. These cbahws have been trained as part of the project. In the future, they will receive a small fee for their services – like our own vets, just smaller – to make their living. Having these cbahws from the community ensures that more people are reached, since they go out into their own community and follow the people with their herds.

Recurring drought and shorter rainy seasons caused by climate change has put stress on the animals the pastoralists rely on. Having this animal health post and the cbahws will make them more resilient.
This was just the first of three interventions we visited today as part of the project. 

Animal Health Post - Inaugurated Today!

Sudan Grass at the Nursery
From the health outpost we also visited a nursery where forage seeds are grown for distribution as well as varieties of drought resistant plants and trees to help rehabilitate the soil and prevent erosion. From the nursery we then went to a demo plot site for one community and stood on a grass oasis amidst the dry lands. It was the after of a before and after photo, showing what can be achieved with proper soil conservation.

Tomorrow we will visit another three interventions for a total of six visits over two days. These six interventions are only a part of the whole project we are carrying out with the Church here in the Haraghe diocese. We would have to be here for months to see the whole thing no doubt. 
Demo plot site.

Here are just some of the specs on the project pamphlet that was given to us as part of the orientation:

Region: Jijiga Woredas: Gursum and Tulugulad Kebeles: (too numerous to list)

Number of households reached: 8,295.

Goal: increasing resilience of the population to climate change by improving livelihoods of agro-pastoralist and pastoralist households in the target area.

Today we saw that goal being reached. I found myself looking forward to seeing more of this project first-hand tomorrow.

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