The rural communities in Ambassel, Tehuledere, Bati, and Dewachefaworedas are challenged by erratic rainfall distribution, drought, flood, and pest infestation. These extreme events affect the agricultural productivity and income of smallholders. The communities’ ability to adapt to disasters is low due to lack of knowledge and skill.
In most of the target kebeles (neighborhoods), drought is a critical hazard as identified through PDRA. Accordingly, drought mitigation DRR plans are prepared by the community through the facilitation of IIRR. One such plan is to use groundwater for irrigation.
Mohamed Biru is a 46-year-old farmer who lives in the Dawachefa district of Kachurkebele. He is married and has five children (three girls and two boys). As most dwellers of the kebele, his family livelihood is entirely dependent on agriculture.
He has 0.75 hectare (1.8 acres) of land in which he strives to maintain by producing cereals, mainly sorghum and maize. Though the farmland is relatively flat and fertile, he harvests his entire farmland only once per year during the rainy season. He occasionally uses underground water to produce meager vegetable crops.
After he visited community ponds constructed by farmers supported by the Harvest Plus Project in adjacent village, she saw how their lives were changed for the better. This motivated him to change his farming practices. He and his fellow farmers organized a 12-member group where each member contributed 500 ETB ($23) to cover the cost of a pump and an excavator to drill the borehole. The project supported them with industrial materials and covered technical costs. The group members excavated ponds and planted tomato, onion, pepper, and mung-bean in them.
Mohamed planted onion and tomato on a 0.25 hectares (.61 acres) of land and earned 30,000 ETB ($1325). He invested 5000 ETB ($230) for seed, fuel, and labor after which he gained a net profit of 25,000 ETB ($1100). He says, “This income was not conceivable in the past years. Harvest Plus makes life simple, and inspires us to work harder”
Mohammed has opened a bank account and saved money for household consumption, educational expenses of his children, and agricultural inputs costs. Before, Mohamed uses group water pumps to irrigate his land. Now, he is set to purchase his own water pump to expand the irrigable land and to earn more income. Even though drought is still a very critical problem in the area, ground water harvesting and utilization for irrigation has enabled farmers to become productive beyond their individual/household survivability.