Enhancing resilience to improve livelihoods by supporting tree production
More than 40% of the population of Ethiopia’s Afar Regional State is reliant on food aid due to drought. Vegetation cover, which used to provide food, income and fuel while stabilizing the soil, has been critically compromised in the region, and it is under significant pressure from population growth (2.6% per annum). Afar Region is hot and dry, with daytime temperatures of up to 48°C and annual precipitation of less than 350mm. Merely 7% of the region’s area is viable for agriculture. Farming and small-scale irrigation are practiced where water is available, usually in valleys where mixed herds of camels, cattle, sheep and goats are grazed.
The Afar Region is facing immense pressure from migration, with high potential for conflict wherever clans of other ethical origin displace the indigenous population. As a result, Afar’s hierarchical clan structures, which traditionally manage communal resources and irrigation systems, are under strain as soil degrades and productivity is lost. Reforestation has been unable to make up for the reduction in tree stocks since local nurseries do not have the expertise or capacity to produce high quality planting material. Moreover, community members have little to no knowledge about the cultivation and productive management of fruit trees. Until recently, people relied on natural species regeneration, and so they had no need to know how to plant or care for them.