Water conservation practices maintained by the youth

Rainfall in Ethiopia is highly erratic, varying from high intensity storms in highland areas to scare fleeting rainfall in dry and semi-arid areas. Rain water and harvesting technologies are important to ensure that farmers are able to combat frequent drought, and use multiple water sources during annual droughts and intermittent dry spells. Fethia Ahmed, Junior expert in Agricultural Water Management at the IFAD Ethiopia Country office shares her experiences after attending the RAIN Foundation’s learning exchange workshop in February 2014.

RAIN Foundation, in partnership with the Ethiopian Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Alliance, Mekelle University and Metameta, organized a five-day workshop to discuss their experiences of promoting rain water harvesting technologies from different sector to share lessons learned and best practices. It was interesting to view and learn about affordable and less labor-intensive innovations and measures that can be used to prevent destructive run off within watersheds and to rehabilitate degraded lands. The displayed water technologies all had common features; they could feasibly retain rain water, recharges ground water sources and can be used as a water source for multiple uses. The technologies were introduced to the community in a participatory manner and are highly accessible to beneficiaries because they are affordable and promote the sustainable use of water. We hope to incorporate these technologies into ongoing projects in Ethiopia.

 A Check dam built to prevent run-off from deepening the gully below

Not limiting discussions to the classroom, we had the chance to visit various locations within Mekele region. We learned how to identify appropriate technologies and participatory methods to ensure that promoted technologies are chosen with the engagement of the community. This is important to make certain that the design suits their needs as it does not take too much effort to draw water and the source may be used for  agricultural, livestock or household water uses. The most significant lesson learned was how communities have actively implemented natural resources management practices to revive the dry lands. Community members have a vital role to maintain conserved and rehabilitated degraded lands. They are the first to experience the negative impacts of land degradation and have become acutely aware of human practices that intensify land degradation. 

In Aguale watershed, young people in the community have been motivated to engage in soil and water conservation methods to ensure they have fertile and healthy soils to farm on in the future.  Natural resource management projects in the region have brought about significant change, as the community now encourages young people to participate in conservation practices to ensure the continuation of these practices in the future.  They now strive to ensure that everyone in the community is part of the land transformation.  Over the past 20 years, the community has revived their watershed into a lush green valley. In fact, increased water percolation has created new water sources that are now used to irrigate agricultural land.  

A hand dug well, which uses a motor pump to life out the water to irrigate lands and for general water use
The motor pump drawing water out of a hand dug well into an irrigation canal, which waters farms.