Abraham Abamo, 35 years old and his family of six are not afraid of hard work – the evidence is plain to see at his thriving and well-tended one hectare farm.
His fields contain neat and plentiful rows of spinach bordered by young banana and avocado trees, already flowering and promising a good crop of fruit.
2016 proved favourable for Abraham and his family as he had surplus potatoes, corn and fava beans to not only feed his family but to earn money in the local market.
Abraham takes a break from tending to a bull which he is fattening after using it to plough his corn and potato seeds.
The Abamos pose for a family portrait on their farm
His current situation is in stark contrast to how it used to be.
The Tembaro zone where Abraham lives is one of the most densely populated rural areas in Ethiopia and is in the midst of an ecological crisis.
For Abraham bad weather in the past would mean his family would go hungry, relying on a mix of hand outs and loans from family to get by.
Late rains, prolonged dry spells and flooding, coupled with high market prices for fertiliser, created a perfect storm for mass food insecurity in the region.
“I used to worry about when my next meal will come or how will I support my family. When my young daughter Meklit got sick from malnourishment we had to send her to the clinic run by the Catholic Church. After treating her they came and assessed my family’s situation. Following that I was provided with three seed varieties and a bull to help plough my land,” said Abraham.
Abraham now sends his nine and 12 year old sons to school and plans to enrol Meklit in the near future.
Abraham previously had no ox to plough his land. Ploughing required that he had to borrow oxen from others on his land and provide two thirds of the produce to them in return, leaving him with barely enough to cover three months of food.
Households like Abraham’s were provided with three seed varieties namely potato, corn and fava beans and an ox to allow them to thrive by Trócaire and its partners.
Anyone meeting Abraham and his family for the first time would find it hard to imagine the journey they have made from hardship and hunger to the life they now lead. It is a journey out of poverty which has been shared by many of Abraham’s fellow farmers and villagers of Taza Gerba in Tembaro Zone.
The journey has been made possible by the Hossana Nutrition Emergency Response and Preparedness project (HNBLP), funded by Irish Aid and co-implemented by CAFOD, SCIAF, Trócaire (CST Together) and the Apostolic Vicariate of Hosanna (AVH). The Hosanna Response project had a different approach to previous projects: it focused on improving people’s livelihoods rather than just soil and water conservation. It has been a great success in Kedida-Gamela, Tembaro and Soro districts of Hadiya and Kembata-Tembaro Zones, of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR).
Abraham and his family are just one of the families of 12,303 people (of which 6,865 are female) reached through the project.
Today Abraham and many farmers like him are flourishing. But just two years ago, the area was struggling to deal with a changing climate and the consequences of a series of dry spells. People’s earnings were meagre, not enough to feed themselves.
Entire families would migrate to other areas in search of work. At the heart of their struggle for survival was the shortage of seeds and animals for ploughing.
“These days the land is fertile. We know how to grow crops in small pieces of land. I have increased my capacity to the level that I can now support other families in my area,” Abraham says.