In the Addo village of the Dassenech district in Ethiopia’s South Omo Zone, Ngangati Kabir lives with his wife and four children. In his late thirties, he joined Vita’s RESULT/RESET II project which, in collaboration with the EU aims to enhance the incomes and livelihoods of pastoralists in the region who are particularly vulnerable to poverty and climate change. As cattle farming continues to depreciate as herds are lost to conflict, lack of available fodder, and desertification caused by environmental breakdown, Ngangati’s livelihood was severely under threat. Vita’s camel breeding programme aimed to change this.
Camels are a sustainable solution to the pastoralists whose whole means of earning a living are threatened by climate change. They are naturally resilient to adverse weather conditions, reduce demand for fodder as they consume hard-to-reach leaves and other inedible plant materials and provide highly-nutritious milk which helps improve community health and nutrition.
However, before Vita’s programme, this knowledge was unavailable to Ngangati and his peers who believed the region unsuitable for camel breeding and had no expertise in the area. On top of this, was the financial barrier: even if Ngangati had had access to this information and education, he had no money to afford investing in this new livelihood.
This is where Vita, with the support of the EU, could help. Vita provided the camels, a breeding system and rigorous training with local pastoralists to endow them with the tools and skills to build resilient and prosperous livelihoods. Knowledge-sharing with peers was a key focus of this programme and Ngangati even travelled to Borena to share his experience with others.
Under the programme, Ngangati received two camels and now has three goats which are producing offspring. Vita programme officers continue to support Ngangati with training as he needs it. Because of this, Ngangati’s worries over his finances and his family’s future are at an end. He makes his living by selling his camels’ milk and is able to provide his children with a daily supply of this nutritious and rich milk. Ngangati is ambitious and plans to build on the support Vita gave him by growing his cattle herd so that he can sell them to the Borena market. He is grateful to have had this opportunity and has already proven the seismic difference it can to a family.
Fruit production in the South Omo Zone is one of Vita’s most necessary projects in ensuring sustainable livelihoods for families made vulnerable by climate change. Using climate-resilient cash crops that can grow quickly and are not resource-demanding, Vita’s programme transforms local economies as, for the first time, vulnerable communities – and women in particular – have a means of earning a secure and stable living. Thus, this programme not only lifts families out of poverty, it gives them status, independence, agency and protects them from the harmful effects of climate change.
In Orar’s case, Vita established a banana production programme in her village. Bananas are an amazing, self-seeding cash crop that have the added benefit of being a highly nutritious and satiating food.
To begin this project, Vita organised a cooperative to ensure community involvement, collaboration and equality amongst all project participants. Rigorous fruit production training was then introduced alongside all of the necessary agricultural materials and equipment. Most importantly, Vita introduced an irrigation water pump, which the community helped to construct. This would ensure year-round irrigation in an area that is often arid and only increasing in dryness as rainfall becomes ever-more erratic. The desperate need for a project of this kind wasn’t just felt by Orar but by many members of her community. As she simply said, “I put my hope on this project.”
Staff followed and supported Orar’s progress every day as she planted her first seeds and then prepared to harvest the first crops to sell at a local market. This has continued even in the wake of COVID-19, as Vita staff provided farmers with protective equipment and continued to check in and advise. Now, Orar is set to make her first sales from her hard work. She is in a position to feed her children, as the extra income will take the pressure off her husband and give her independence to provide for her family.
This is Orar’s dream for the future. Vita will continue to support her to ensure this is not just a dream, but a reality.
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