I see evidence of the influence the Education For Development Association, www.efhda.org.et, makes on the lives of Oromo farmers. Travelling Ethiopia’s western highlands, I see multiple projects in effect. Providing sanitation and clean water for drinking are great challenges, so the EFDA provides well water and fixtures to deliver spring water for drinking and cooking. A solar water disinfection project effectively purifies water in clear plastic soda bottles at almost no cost. Bottles are placed on the roofs of houses, and UV rays from the sun purify the water in six hours. Concrete drinking troughs for cattle and livestock reduce the animals’ pollution of streams as well as helping to keep animals healthy in times of drought. On individual farms and at the EFDA’s resource centers in Shambu and Walisso, farmers gather to learn sustainable agricultural practices, animal husbandry, water conservation, and methods of improving food production. EFDA pioneered in introducing apples to Ethiopia’s highland area to generate additional income for farmers.
This is Ethiopia’s rainy season, and the western highlands appear lush and green. Everywhere I look farmers are plowing the rocky volcanic soil with teams of oxen. A closer look reveals lean oxen with bones showing; the animals simply don’t have enough muscle to safely pull their plows. Tucho shows me horse and donkey harnesses used for plowing when the mighty oxen are not capable of pulling the plows. The green grass is grazed close to the ground. Tucho explains to me that this year’s rains are not sufficient to sustain the grasslands and fill the reservoirs. Fincha Lake remains unseasonably low. Tucho fears the land may not sufficiently support the population’s food requirements Tucho and Gedefa explain EFDA’ efforts to protect the environment, prevent the loss of topsoil, provide drainage systems, and encourage crop rotation. Oromo farmers are working to prevent deforestation, and degradation of the environment. They protect flood areas and forests. My beekeeping project is designed to take advantage of the resources of the forest.