The Yafia watershed committee is waiting in the shade of a storage building when visitors from Canadian Foodgrains Bank arrive to discuss their successful reforestation project.
“This used to be bare dirt, a land full of gullies due to erosion,” says committee member Buche Borsomo, gesturing to the treed area across the road.
“There was nothing for our livestock to eat.”
But things are different now since the Foodgrains Bank, through its member World Renew and a local partner, the Terepezza Development Association, provided a food for work project to help the community bring the 43-hectare area back to life.
The project, located in the Southern Nations Region in the southern part of Ethiopia, ran from 2012-15. It found 70 community members planting trees and native grasses and digging basins to catch rainwater. Sixty-nine households benefitted from the project.
“Now we are enjoying the benefits,” says committee member Tesfahun Lema, listing things such as having feed for their livestock, the return of wild animals, and rising groundwater levels.
“During dry periods, we used to struggle to find feed for our livestock,” he says. “Now we can easily get it.”
The committee also employs young people from the community to cut and sell grass, which provides them with jobs and needed income. They are also helping some of them start out in beekeeping, since the renewed vegetation is attractive for bees.
“We thank God for all who supported us to do this project,” says committee member Tamirat Danecho.
“This land has totally recovered and our children have jobs. At the same time, we have gained skills and knowledge.”
For Sam Vander Ende, the Foodgrains Bank’s field representative based in Ethiopia, the project is like a seedling, both literally and figuratively.
“Five years ago we helped them plant trees and hope for the future,” he says. “Now, the community benefitting since the land is healthy again.”
This project was made possible by support from the Government of Canada.