In the Machakel region of northeastern Ethiopia, the grass grows well and the hills are green during the rainy season. However, there was also significant soil erosion on the hills. Due to the erosion, deep channels stripped of vegetation were worn into the otherwise green landscape. Almost all of the native forest on the hills was cut down and the soil depleted, resulting in crop failures and food insecurity.
Since 2017, The Hunger Project Ethiopia and WeForest have been working together to fight erosion in the area. WeForest is an organisation that empowers communities to sustainably advance and implement lasting solutions to restore forest landscapes.
“Population pressure has increased. Large areas of forest have been cut to create more agricultural land. As a result, the soil isn’t retained as well. Because of climate change, the rains are getting heavier — large areas of land simply wash away,” says Dr. Aklilu, Forestry Expert at WeForest.
“WeForest has a lot of expertise about forest planting and forest management. The Hunger Project is strong in engaging and mobilising the community. This is desperately needed, because we need action from our village partners in the area. It is ultimately in the interest of the people themselves that erosion is tackled, and we want to achieve that together,” he says.
Our village partners in Machakel play a crucial role in the collaboration, contributing with:
1. Land – they make communal land available for forest planting, instead of grazing cattle
2. Time – they unite in committees, assist in planting seedlings and protecting plants
3. Selection of trees – instead of planting popular, exotic trees such as eucalyptus, they now plant protected, native trees
“The most important thing for me is that we create a better living environment for all of us and counteract the effects of climate change. The children that I will probably have [in the future], must also be able to live here” – Gizachen Buyu, The Hunger Project village partner.
Now, grass has regrown to knee height and trees have grown where erosion channels used to be. The countryside has recovered.
AS OF DECEMBER 2019:
• Seedlings were grown in three nurseries in the region
• Our village partners formed 60 farmer committees
• 530 hectares of community land was made available for forest and planting (where previously it had been used for livestock grazing)
• More than 1 million trees have been planted
• Farmers have planted 735,000 fruit trees and fruit-bearing shrubs on their own land, so that 270 hectares of land is now used for agroforestry
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