What Drought? Ethiopian Farmers Turn A Desert Into A Lush Green Forest
Ethiopia has been facing one of the worst drought in more than half a decade in the northern part of the country, but in Tigray province some farmers have managed to turn the former semi-desert region to a lush green forest by learning to capture rain water.
Tigray is found in the highlands of East African nation and was one of the regions that was badly affect by a sever drought in the late 1980s.
The steep gradient of the slopes in Northern Ethiopia means that farmers would lose over 130 tons of soil per hectare in a year, comparable to the worst erosion documented on U.S. farms in recent history, grist reported.
At some point the government considered relocating people from the area to save them from perennial drought conditions year after year.
Instead, a program was developed to try and rescue the land as a fraction of the cost of relocating the farmers. It succeeded and the farmers were able to keep their land and homes.
The semi-desert hilly regions is now a forest and has become an example for other counties in the country.
So, how did they do it?
Through the program the farmers took two months out of each year to build stone check dams across gullies and plant trees to catch the eroding earth and create a pool that would percolate into the ground, BBC reported.
With the new found resource, the farmers we trained modern farming methods and the use of fertilizer to improve their crop yields. It is estimated that production by farmers in the province has doubled since the program was introduced.
The project is not a silver bullet to the country’s drought problem, as people on the lowlands are still grappling with drought conditions. It has however given a solution to part of the problem and could be used to transform other regions and cushion the country against this climate crisis.