"We want families to be able to plant vegetable gardens, grow corn and onions and water their livestock," says project coordinator Yvonne Stephan. She is happy that the concrete pipes for the irrigation system have finally arrived on site. They have had an arduous journey by truck. The road to the village was only a gravel road. Shortly before reaching their destination the truck with the pipes got stuck in the mud. Only with the combined forces of the village community the truck got free again.
Mud and slush are almost never found in Bursaredo. However, last winter's secondary rainy season, here called Deyr, was the strongest in decades. The tragedy of it: most of the water drained off over the hard earth and was lost as a source of water. There was also the danger of flooding at nearby Shabelle, the only year-round river in the region, where Bursaredo is located.
A village gets water
arche noVa is currently building a comprehensive water system in the municipality of Bursaredo. The pumping station at the river is already in place. It is necessary in order to lead the river water into the main pipe. From there it flows on the one hand to a high tank with filter system for the drinking water supply and on the other hand to the new irrigation systems for the fields. The population is helping with the construction. Together they have dug the trenches for the pipes, for example.
Agriculture as a new perspective
The people of Bursaredo face a great task. They have to completely reorganize their lives, because most of the families have only recently moved here. Traditionally, the people in the Shabelle zone live as herdsmen who move from pastureland to pastureland with their herds. Faced with the increasing danger of drought and the drying up of the soil, they are looking for new survival strategies. Along the river they want to practice a mixture of small-scale farming and cattle breeding. But this is difficult to realize.
In an assessment with our local partner organisation, OWDA, we found that agriculture in Bursaredo has been very unproductive to date. Harvests are often lost completely because people know little about agricultural practices and there is no viable irrigation technology.
arche noVa supports the new start of agriculture in Bursaredo in many ways. In doing so we focus on endangered, often destitute families. The selection of beneficiaries is coordinated with the responsible authorities and the community elders.
The two irrigation systems will each supply an area of 50 hectares. Concrete pipes are currently being laid to carry the river water to the fields. "Farmers must learn when and how much water is needed for the different crops. The farmers are setting up a cooperative for this purpose. This will manage the irrigation system. Each member will pay a fee so that income is generated for the operation and necessary repairs," says Yvonne Stephan. The small farming families involved will also receive training on improved crop cultivation, sustainable crop rotation and soil conservation. The main aim is to improve the families' nutritional situation. In the future, however, the focus will also be on marketing the crops.
Gallery: Irrigation systems in Ethiopia
Fetching water without fear of crocodiles
The big questions of the future are very much on the minds of the people of Bursaredo and demand a lot from them. But every day it is mainly the fetching of water that worries them. From Bursaredo it is 1.5 kilometres to the banks of the Shabelle. The women and young girls fetch the water directly from the river. This is hard physical work on the one hand, and dangerous on the other, as crocodile attacks occur time and time again. Mostly it hits the animals, for example from the herds of goats, which also fetch water here, but people are attacked by crocodiles from time to time, too.
The families, however, have no other choice. The water of the Shabelle River is the only source of water in the region and of poor quality. Most of the year it is muddy and very cloudy. Water-borne diseases are common. These diseases are spread either directly or by drinking untreated river water. "Every diarrhoea illness is a small catastrophe for the people. Not at least because there are no local treatment options," explains Yvonne Stephan. The new water system of arche noVa will bring the supply in Bursaredo to a new level. For this purpose, besides the pump house, the pipeline and the high tank near the village, a drinking water treatment plant will be built which filters the water. Finally, a water distribution point with several taps will be built.
Our project manager Nazir Ahmed just conducted a training for the WASH committee with a test run of the filter system. In a few days it will go into operation and everyone is proud to have contributed!