Ethiopia: From Parched Land to Plentiful Harvest
In Ethiopia, where millions depend on rain to grow crops to feed their families, even small variations in the climate can have devastating consequences. But work by Catholic Relief Services and our partners means that climate change does not have to lead to disaster. With the right programs and policies, even the most vulnerable Ethiopians can learn to adapt in ways that will ensure that they don't just survive, but thrive.
That is certainly the case in Alelugessela, a small village south of Addis Ababa reached by taking a very bumpy path from the paved road. There, working with the local Catholic diocese of Meki, CRS organized a water committee that built a pipeline connecting a well a few miles away to a water facility in the village.
Father Temesgen Kebede runs the Catholic Secretariat, the social outreach arm of the Church, in the Diocese of Meki. He has seen firsthand what happens when these wells provide water to a community that used to walk miles to haul water from sources that were often unreliable during dry seasons.
"For some, this water was a miracle," says Father Temesgen. "You see a 75-year-old person and show him how to open the tap. He has never gotten water that way."
At the opening of one such well, a woman delighted to see the water flow was asked about the people who had drilled the well.
"They call themselves Catholics," she said. It was obvious that this was a strange word to her."I'm not sure exactly what that means, but we give thanks to God for their work."
You can find such work all over Ethiopia. Some involves the basic, lifesaving act of getting food to people when they don't have enough. The work of the Church in Ethiopia combines innovative programming that helps communities recover from drought, create new income, build up savings and plan for the future.
With the help of CRS and the Ethiopia Catholic Church-Social and Development Coordinating Office of Meki, the community has protected large swaths of grassland to offset deforestation and land degradation. Trenches were dug to slow soil erosion, trees were planted to provide shade, block winds and filter rain into the ground, and the enclosure was made off limits to livestock grazing. The land now provides jobs cutting and selling grass for roofing to around 100 people. Soil erosion has diminished and wildlife has begun to return to the area. The livestock is fed with the grasses when the dry seasons hit.