Building Resilience in Drought-Affected Communities
During the 2010–11 drought, Da’ud lost all his livestock – his main household assets. He couldn’t cultivate his land due to lack of funds to remove the invasive shrub, Prosopips Juliaflora (which requires tractors to eradicate). Nor could he afford the soaring price of fuel to operate the irrigation pump. So he became a day-laborer in Dollo-Bay, loading and unloading trucks bringing goods from Mogadishu.
Revolving credit fund systems enable agricultural cooperatives to reinvest fuel credit funds after they have been repaid by participating agro-pastoralists, thus sustaining future production. Pictured above, IRD field staff provide revolving fuel credit system orientation.
Da’ud is chairman of the the Hawl-Wadag farmers’ cooperative, one of 18 in the Dollo-Bay district Ethiopia’s Somali regional state that is benefiting from the Emergency Pastoralist Livelihood Assistance project (EPLA). The cooperative has just over 30 hectares of land adjacent to the Ganale River, which provides a steady source of water for irrigation. The cooperative’s 20 members have been challenged by the impact of recurrent drought.
EPLA supported the cooperatives by renting a tractor to plough the land and provided an improved variety of maize (Malkassa 4). In addition, the project supplied the cooperatives with 1,000 liters of fuel to operate their irrigation pumps as well as provided agriculture extension and other technical support.
Before planting, the farmers were offered a hands-on training of high yield techniques and the importance of using row plantation with appropriate spacing between rows and plants instead of the traditional broadcasting techniques, resulting in higher yields. Twenty cooperatives have finished the initial planting phase of the season. Three cooperatives have started harvesting product for consumption. To date, the remaining ten cooperatives are in the land preparation stage.
At the end of June 2012, the Hawl-Wadag cooperative harvested their 10 hectare plot, which yielded over 300 bushels (77 quintals) of maize. From that they reserved 20 quintals for household consumption, donated 7 quintals to poor households, and stored the remainder for later sale. The total profit from the maize is expected to earn a profit of $2,550.
At the cooperative, nothing goes to waste. The maize stalks are a valuable forage and animal feed. The maize stalk from the harvest filled 68 donkey carts. Out of this total, one cart-full of fodder was distributed to each cooperative member household (saving them the need to walk long distances in search of animal feed). The remainder was sold for a profit of over $1,500.
According to Da’ud, the group is planning to invest its profits to cultivate 15 hectares of land with Sudan grass and onion. He said they now have enough money to cover the cost of fuel for the coming agricultural season, and he is hopeful these fast-growing crops will bring the cooperative even more profits to help build his community’s resistance to future drought.
The EPLA is funded by the United Methodist Committee for Relief (UMCOR) and managed by IRD.