Learning new ways of providing for their family

Water in the form of an irrigation system fights hunger for the Eyasu family. “Before we were livestock people,” Mohammed says, “but now we have learned how to grow food.” Photo by Amanda Thorsteinsson/CFGB

Hunger is no longer a problem for the Eyasu family because they now have enough water to grow crops. “Before we were livestock people,” Mohammed says, “but now we have learned how to grow food.” Photos by Amanda Thorsteinsson/CFGB

Mohammed Eyasu, his wife Medina and their five children live in Segentole village, in Afar, Ethiopia. Their family is one of the 450 households who benefit from the Aura II irrigation project.

“Before we were livestock people,” Mohammed says, “but now we have learned how to grow food.”

Before this project Mohammed reared his cattle. He, like his fellow pastoralists, was dependent on his livestock as the only source of income. They were able to live quite comfortably, but because of droughts caused by climate change, life had become a struggle to survive. In order to buy food, they had to sell their animals one by one. As a consequence they were becoming more and more food insecure and dependent on food aid.

A herd of cattle in the Afar region of Ethiopia.

A herd of cattle in the Afar region of Ethiopia.

Mohammed settled in Segentole after the Aura II project was started in 2012. “This is my second year to farm. The first yield was very good,” says Mohammed.

In two weeks he will be harvesting his second crop. There will be more than enough to feed his family. The rest he is planning to sell.

Lush, green crops in the middle of the Afar desert.

Lush, green crops in the middle of the Afar desert.

The main crops are maize, sorghum and sesame as well as different kinds of fruit and vegetables. Two crops are harvested in irrigated land in a year: maize during the dry season, and sorghum during the rainy season.

The Eyasu's home in Segentole. Settling down means they can send their children to school.

The Eyasu’s home in Segentole. Settling down means they can send their children to school.

The Aura irrigation project has changed people’s lives in more than one way. It has brought food to people’s tables and as a side effect of this project people now have access to health care and other social services provided by the government. All the children—including girls—can go to school in the village.

Halima Eyasu - daughter

Halima is one of Mohammed’s daughters. Unlike her mother, grandmother and generations of women before her, she is getting to go to school.

“My dream for our children is that they will get an education and will engage in development work. I hope they will become agro-pastoralists, too, like me,” the visibly happy father says.

“We would like to give big thanks to Canadians. They have done a lot for us.”

-by Pastor Riitta Hepomaki. Pastor Hepomaki joined the Canadian Foodgrains Bank on a visit to Ethiopia last month, where she got the opportunity to meet Mohammed, Medina and many others who are benefitting from your support

The Aura II irrigation project, and others like it, was started by an Ethiopian agency called Support for Sustainable Development (SSD), who in turn receives support from Canadian Lutheran World Relief and Canadian Foodgrains Bank. SSD is a national, non-religious and non-profit charity with a vision “to see the rural poor farming and pastoral communities of Ethiopia self-sustained and independent of others’ support.” Canadians have supported 11 of SSD’s irrigation projects through Canadian Lutheran World Relief and Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

To see gifts that support irrigation in the Gifts from the Heart catalogue, please click HERE

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