Eritrea, located in the horn of Africa, has a substantial coastline along the Red Sea, and is bordered by Sudan, Djibouti and Ethiopia. The country is steeped in a rich and vibrant history, and was the first country to declare its entire coast an environmentally protected zone.

The Eritrean population numbers over five million, the majority of whom dedicate their livelihoods to agriculture. However, drought is a frequent phenomenon in Eritrea and has considerably impacted on food security, nutrition, and land management. It has also significantly reduced the availability of clean water for human consumption and livestock production – an issue further compounded by the country’s steep topography and arid landscapes. Interventions in agriculture focused on climate smart practices are a sustainable solution that Vita is implementing to reduce poverty, enable greater food security and nutrition, and accelerate inclusive growth and rural incomes.

Our current projects include:

Irish Aid, 2017-2021:

This project, in partnership with Irish Aid, aims to target 30,000 households in Eritrea through the development and testing of new agricultural systems. Livestock development through breeding and agribusiness, farmer-led potato sector development, and crop improvement initiatives for crops such as wheat, millet, and sorghum will form the basis of this project in improving threatened livelihoods through sustainable and supportive climate smart practices. Capacity building in targeted communities and the introduction of fuel-efficient cookstoves and access to clean water will also be a primary focus of this project.

EU DeSIRA – Climate Smart Agriculture Research and Innovation Support for Dairy Value Chains in Eritrea

Vita will partner with Teagasc (lead), the Eritrean Ministry of Agriculture, Self Help Africa and a range of Irish and International academic and research partners and private sector actors in an innovative project supporting the development of Dairy Value Chains in Eritrea. The initiative, funded by the EU and to be implemented over a 50 month period, seeks to accelerate an inclusive, climate-smart and sustainable transformation of the dairy industry in Eritrea, in order to enhance food and nutrition security and create job opportunities for young people. The project will build on work already supported by Vita and Teagasc in developing technical capacities in the Dairy sector.

European Union CSO Seed, 2019-2022:

10,500 households stand to benefit from this seed project. Vita’s role is to support the establishment of a farmer-led seed multiplication and supply system for crops such as potato, wheat, millet, and sorghum. This will create income growth for small-scale farmers and improve food, nutrition and financial security for households.

Vita’s impact in Eritrea include:

  • Direct impact on livelihoods of thousands of people through various interventions
  • Improved livelihoods for female-headed households using improved cook stoves
  • Thousands of tonnes of CO2 emission savings from improved cook stoves
  • National agricultural research, training and extension appraisal with Teagasc
  • Successful trials of Irish potato varieties, shipped from Ireland to Eritrea
  • Completion of a large dam, providing water for crops and livestock in Eritrea

Vita in Eritrea:

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 and energy security by cooperating intensively with local government and local civil society partners who implement most of the project work on the ground. Projects currently being implemented in Eritrea include:

Fuel-Efficient Stoves:

Stoves 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 or participating in income-generating activities.

Drip Irrigation:

Vita first introduced drip irrigation technology into Eritrea as a method to irrigate without the depletion of scarce water reserves. By constructing a dam and supplying farmers with materials required for irrigation, farmers are able to enjoy a reliable and accessible source of water throughout the year, which allows for increased agricultural production. The success of the project has led to the Ministry of Agriculture adopting this technology and replicating it across the country.

Carbon Finance:

Vita is aiming to develop a national mechanism to avail of carbon finance for the distribution of improved stoves. Each improved stove can contribute to a reduction in CO2 emissions through improved fuel efficiency. The stoves can therefore finance the continued expansion of improved stoves through offsetting carbon.

Seed and Crop Development:

This research-led initiative promotes food security by distributing improved seeds of potatoes and cereals. Once harvested, the improved seed is shared amongst the community, allowing for a larger group of farmers to share in the benefits and improved household food security.

Promoting Capacity Building and Scalability:

In Eritrea, Vita implements its projects in partnership with local government and community bodies. This approach creates ownership amongst the community, and promotes the long-term sustainability of the project. Ownership and sustainability of projects strongly enhance the likelihood that the project can be scaled up and replicated across the country, increasing the number of people that can be reached by one project.