Ethiopia / Lalibela: Soil Conservation, Forestation and urban Farming
Back forty years ago, 40 % of the overall land of Ethiopia was believed to be a forested land. Between the years 1990 and 2000 alone, Ethiopia has lost an average of 140,900 hectares of forest per year, which shows the loss of 14.0% of its forest cover, or around 2,114,000 hectares only within ten years.
The main causes for such rapid deforestation are basically aliened to primitive agricultural land expansion, the community’s total dependent on fuel and wood consumption, absence of technological replacements of other sources of energy, and largely, due to weak federal and regional institutional capacity of handling such natural and manmade calamities. As a result of these challenges, it has been a fact of public domain that the country is suffering from a repeated droughts, famine, soil erosion, flooding and overall imbalance to the ecosystem in the country. Currently, it is predicted that only less than 3% of the country’s land is covered with forest.
Despite some efforts from the regime in tackling the hurriedly demolition of the forest and other natural resources; it was not successful mainly because of: the politicization of the programs, non-inclusive and disorganised efforts in approaching the problem, environmental unfriendly developmental projects, and lack of follow-up mechanisms have led those efforts not to have concrete result on the ground.
Lalibela, as mentioned in different reports of other projects of PBF, is found in the North-eastern part of the country – the landmark area where the above mentioned environmental causalities are common and ever persistent.
Main activities in the project
With such a concrete background, PBF found it a ‘matter of no option‘ to contribute its part, with whatever possibilities we have, and support projects designed to retain the country’s natural assets and beautification of its topographical inherent structure.
It is with this aim that we started supporting a group called ‘Lalibela-Trees-Group‘: organised in Lalibela composing some dedicated young people with full of compassion for the restoration of forest in the area.
The main activities in this project include but not limited to; soil and water conservation plot which helps to keep water from the hillside rugged formed type of the topography by constructing contour and terracing; water tank system maintenance, fixation of rain/flooding water pipe and control the flow and reserve the water for proper utilisation. The plantlets of pits and prepare them for plantation and/or distributing these seedlings to the community is also another activity being underway by the project. Moreover, the group with this project are also actively working on mini-urban farming by planting variety of vegetables and providing in the market for consumers. The project also includes planting and raising flowers and small-house plants and merchandising for the market.
Aiming to entrench public awareness, the group has been planting much of the plantlets around the main streets of the town, in the school and other public places. In the countryside of the town, more than 1 hectare area of land is covered with the newly growing plants with ambition of contributing the reforestation demand that the area needs if the current natural and manmade challenges of preserving the area are to be minimised.
Generally, PBF is funding this project with the belief that such kind of projects will enhance the long term and critical improvements that the country has to work on, if the natural consequences of over-exploitation of natural resources, like forest, are to be halted on permanent basis. As what we have been doing so far, we are more determined to contribute on this project, not only because these young hardworking students are benefiting from the project but mainly because of the nature of the project which could change the life of a generation in the area by regaining the natural beauty of the place through forestation.