Home > Uncategorized > Farmlands have turned to stones and swamps

Farmlands have turned to stones and swamps


“The only thing I can do now is to look for seeds and replant what I have lost”, says Alem Teshome, one of the beneficiaries of an on-going Food Facility project in Northern Ethiopia co-funded by DCA-Ethiopia and the European Union. She has lost everything she had planted on her 0.5 hectares of land as a result of unusual flooding. Alem, a 30-year-old divorcée with three children, lives with her sister in the Ambassel district in a small village known as Hamusit, which is over 480 km away from the capital, Addis Ababa.

“I have lived here all of my life. This is the first time that floods have destroyed everything I have planted.”. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Ethiopia, flooding in the Amhara region of Northern Ethiopia has killed 19 people as a result of mudslides and displaced more than 8.000 people. Quoting a contingency plan issued by regional authorities, OCHA states that 270.000 people could be affected by severe flooding expected from heavy rain next month in the Amhara region.

In need of food and seedsLooking over her farmland, which only a few days ago was covered with Maize, Teff (the stable grain in Ethiopia) and Sorghum, and which now is swampy and crammed with stones carried there by the flood, Alem explains the extent of the damage: “The heavy rain, which caused the flooding and the damage to my farm lasted almost the whole night on 26 July 2010. Many farmers have been victimized as a result of similar floods in our areas”. Alem adds: “I am lucky that my children are out of school for the summer break. With such destructive consequences of the flooding, it would be impossible to make it to school. And the same is true of my going to the market”. The floods are devastating to Alem and her family: “The crops I harvest yearly feed my three children, my sister and myself. I also sell some of it and earn some cash to buy my children’s clothes, exercise books, pens, pencils and other items for the household”.

Landslide approacing a newly built house in Hamusit village Photo: Fikerte Abebe

Although Alem sees the intensity of the rain and knows that the flooding increases the possibility of a similar incidence, she hopes for better days and emphasizes her special need for seeds to replant: "The damage from the flooding not only makes me unable to take care of our basic needs. It also creates a bigger need for particularly seeds",  she says hoping for assistance so she can rehabilitate the farm and replant.

DanChurchAid’s responseIn the Ambassel district of Northern Ethiopia, where the DCA-Ethiopia Food Facility project is being implemented, the regional office immediately responded to the crisis by sending the humanitarian project officer, Tegene Hailegiorgis, to assess the extent of the damage. According to current information from the district’s Agriculture and Rural Development Office (ARDO), a total of 70.469 people/ 15.272 households have been affected by landslides, annual and perennial ruined crops, destroyed roads and water serving points. The affected community and the district have requested that NGOs prioritize rehabilitation support as well as early maturity seeds. Currently, the DCA-Ethiopia humanitarian project officer is preparing a project proposal for OCHA’s Humanitarian Response Fund (HRF) in order to support the communities in need. By Fikerte Abebe, Communication Officer, Ethiopia

[ Any views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not of Reuters. ]08 Sep 2010 10:15:21 GMT
Source: DanChurchAid – Denmark

Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author’s alone.

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