Vita has been working in Eritrea since 2000, as a part of its goal to tackle hunger and build sustainable livelihoods in the Horn of Africa. Vita works towards household food, water and energy security by cooperating intensively with local government and local civil society partners who implement most of the project work on the ground. The innovative Eritrea-Ireland Development Partnership, which consists of The Ministry of Agriculture, Vita, Teagasc and Self-Help Africa, provides an overall framework for Vita’s work in the country.
Projects currently being implemented in Eritrea include:
Increasing access to quality potato and cereal seed
A major focus of Vita’s work in Eritrea to date has been developing community-based seed multiplication systems, working closely with local researchers and extension workers in the Ministry of Agriculture and leveraging the expertise of Teagasc and Self Help Africa. These projects continue to work with clusters of farmers to grow high-quality potato, wheat, and pearl millet seed, improving access to clean, quality seed for the wider farming community and contributing to improved livelihoods and food security.
These improved efficiency stoves, an adaptation of the traditional household stove used across Eritrea, are built by local women, using locally-available supplies. Vita trains women in the construction techniques required for building the stoves. As the stoves only use half the fuel of traditional cooking stoves, less fuel is required and less smoke is emitted. This means that fewer trees need to be felled for a community’s energy requirements, and less time is spent collecting firewood. This allows women and children to spend more time doing other household tasks, studying, participating in income-generating activities, and participating in the social and civic life of their community. Over 16,000 people have benefited from Vita’s improved cookstove programmes since 2016.
Access to Safe Water
Vita has repaired 389 broken down water points in rural Eritrea since 2016, providing access to safe water for over 234, 000 people. The has reduced the exposure of communities to disease and infection, and relieved the significant burden faced by women of walking long distances each day to fetch water. Vita supports the training of Water User Associations at community level to manage the water point and conduct regular maintenance and basic repairs, to reduce the need for external assistance and ensure the water points remain functional.
Vita in collaboration with Teagasc have worked closely with the Ministry of Agriculture in supporting small scale household dairy production since 2014, including the introduction of improved breeds from Ireland that are cross-bred with local cows for higher milk yields. This work has culminated in a major research-led initiative today, coordinated by Teagasc, that is focusing on the climate-smart transformation of dairy value chains in Eritrea. This project is expected to both create economic opportunities and increase access to dairy products for rural households across the country.
Vita is working with farmer and producer groups and local agricultural researchers to test climate-smart approaches to soil fertility management that can increase crop yields, while protecting and restoring the natural resource base that rural livelihoods depend on. A key component of this project is building local and national capacities in soil analysis, classification and advisory services to farmers.