Albertans are making a big difference in Ethiopian communities

Together with your generous support, we are helping farmers build irrigation systems that end hunger in northern Ethiopian communities affected by recurring drought.

This is all accomplished with important partnerships between the people who live in these communities, CLWR, other agencies including Canadian Foodgrains Bank and Support for Sustainable Development, individual Canadians, and groups like the Westlock Growing Project in Westlock, Alberta.

“Small Town, Big Impact,” by Amanda Thorsteinsson, tells the story of the Westlock Growing Project. The story is shared here courtesy of Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Read an excerpt below, or click here for the whole story!

Ethiopian community members chat with visiting members of the Westlock, Alberta community at the site of an irrigation project. Photo courtesy of Les Dunford

Ethiopian community members chat with visiting members of the Westlock, Alberta community at the site of an irrigation project. Photo courtesy of Les Dunford

‘“We’d travelled mile after mile, and there was nothing to be seen,” Leo Seguin recalled about a day of driving through a particularly dry and desolate landscape in northern Ethiopia. “But then we came to what seemed like an oasis. There were bananas and papayas growing. It was like being in Hawaii.”

The project Seguin was seeing was an irrigation project, led by Canadian Foodgrains Bank member Canadian Lutheran World Relief through the Lutheran World Federation, in the remote Afar region of Ethiopia.

The Afar are traditionally a pastoral people. They follow their cattle from place to place, not staying long enough in one place to be able to plant a crop.

But changing weather patterns and an increasing population made following this way of life difficult. As their cattle herds diminished, people went hungry.

The irrigation projects, dreamed up by an Ethiopian engineer named Gebreyes Haile, diverted water from natural flowing streams into fields where people could plant crops.

“I could tell it was making a huge difference,” says Seguin, adding that “I knew it was a project we wanted to be involved in.”

That was the beginning of a longstanding relationship between the community of Westlock and people in the Afar region of Ethiopia.

Since that time, funds raised by the Westlock growing project support irrigation projects in the Afar.’

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