Ethiopia: How Drought Affected Two Farmers Very Differently

Dadij and Senite share their different experiences with this year's Horn of Africa drought (WFP/ Judith Schuler).

Dadij and Senite live in the Doba Region in Eastern Ethiopia, about 20 km apart from each other. The key difference between them is that Dadji has been taking part in a land rehabilitation project and Senite has not. This meant that their experience of this year's drought in the Horn of Africa was quite different.

ADDIS ABEBA -- Dadij Yadete (left in photo above) managed to get through the drought in Ethiopia relatively unscathed this year, largely thanks to the work he has done in recent years on his land through an environmental rehabilitation project called MERET.

Senite (right in photo above) lives only a score of kilometres away, but her village has not been involved in the same sort of work. Her experience of the drought was much more difficult.

We asked Dadij and Senite about their last few months. Here are their answers: 

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Senite

How have you been affected by this year’s drought?
My life is very difficult. As my husband died, I grew some sorghum with the help of my children and my neighbours but it was not enough. I was obliged to go to the next city to collect water and do other works for some people to survive. In addition, we received some food aid but I don’t like receiving aid, I am ashamed of it. 

Are droughts in your area becoming more frequent?
The last three years, there was no rain. Everyone started cutting down the trees around the village in order to sell the wood at the market for income.

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Dadij

How have you been affected by this year's drought?
I didn’t have any problems at all this year and haven’t been affected by the drought. I started participating in the MERET project seven years ago. Back then I grew some maize and barley but it wasn’t enough, I was dependent on food aid. Some people brought me seedlings of apple trees and even though I was hesitant - I hadn’t seen apples before - I started planting them. By selling apples I can make a lot of money. We never used to buy new clothes. Now I can. And food too.

Are droughts in your area becoming more frequent?
I don’t know; I am now growing ten different crops. Apart from the apples, I grow coffee, maize, peppers and many other things. We also worked a lot in the hills around the village, building terraces and dams. And we planted trees, so we have no food or water shortage. 

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Managing the land - MERET

Through Ethiopia's MERET project, which is supported by WFP, communities that are at risk of hunger take part in activities to stop land degradation. They reforest barren hillsides, restore springs and rainwater ponds and construct agricultural terraces. This helps make communities much more resilient to prolonged drought and other climate-related shocks.  Watch video