Transitional aid measure: Improving food security and disaster risk management to enhance resilience in Afar
Title: Transitional aid measure: Improving food security and disaster risk management to enhance resilience in Afar
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture
Overall term: 2016 to 2021
The lowland region of Afar is one of the least developed areas of Ethiopia. Nearly half the land has marginal soils, while the rest consists largely of dry savannah. Annual temperatures here range from 25° to 50°C. Rainfall rarely exceeds 300 mm per year and is highly variable, both in quantity and in distribution. Of the nearly 1.5 million population, more than half live below the absolute poverty line. Afar has some of the lowest development indicators in the country with high rates of infant mortality and child stunting and the highest levels of underweight children in Ethiopia (36 per cent).
The people of the region derive their livelihoods either entirely from livestock farming or from a combination of crop and livestock farming. The traditional agricultural systems are under growing pressure, above all from population growth and climate change. The increasing frequency of climate-related extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods and related disasters is having an increasingly adverse impact on food security, hygiene and health.
The population and selected institutions of Afar benefit from increased capacities, enabling them to pursue productive livelihoods and achieve long-term food security, while increasing their resistance to climate-induced weather extremes.
The project is part of the programme Strengthening Drought Resilience in Arid and Semi-Arid Lowlands of Ethiopia. It operates in eight districts – or woredas – in Afar and focuses on three different areas of activity:
- Water and hygiene: The project aims to enhance people’s access to water, while improving the water quality by introducing collective filter systems. In addition to the construction measures, campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of clean water and hygiene establish the basis for the safer use of food.
- Food and nutrition security: By creating and managing community nurseries and tree protection zones, and by promoting the sale of local products (fruit from trees, forage grasses, meat etc.), the project aims to improve access to food and animal fodder, and increase their availability. It is also working to improve the use of food by providing information and training on nutrition and care practices.
- Disaster risk management: As well as advising the regional Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Committee, the project is helping with efforts to put in place better protections against problems such as drought, floods and livestock disease, through radio-based warning systems and recommendations for action.
- The project builds on the measures implemented by earlier projects in the same area, and on the trust generated by those projects among the population and on the part of the Ethiopian authorities. It will further consolidate these activities, which include measures to promote drought resilience among the pastoral and agro-pastoral population in Ethiopia’s lowlands, and the rehabilitation of soil in Afar.
- The renovation of traditional cisterns, known as birkats, and the installation of simple water treatment and filtration systems have improved access to safe drinking water.
- Awareness of the importance of sanitary health has increased – i.e. the need for regular handwashing, the hygienic storage and preparation of foods, and the use of separate watering places for animals and humans.
- Small-scale measures have been carried out together with local people, to protect critical or productive infrastructure.
- In cooperation with the district government community nurseries have been established for the production of indigenous trees and grass for improved food and fodder.
- Introduction of Waterboxx technology for tree establishment, this technology saves water by more than 90% when compared with any other planting technologies in the first year. From the second year onwards the seedlings are effectively established.