The vegetation in Arsis, Ethiopia is extremely meager and shaped by overgrazing and deforestation. Thus the unprotected soil is exposed to strong erosion, which leads to a degradation of the soil and a decline of the vegetation that constitutes the food resource for the Nomades.
Today the Clans have to constantly expand their territory which often leads to conflicts between the Clans. Another result is the increasing rural migration of people into the already crowded cities. Also the climatic conditions in Arsis are unfavourable: the region is threatened by strong droughts, the rainy season short and the few heavy precipitations seep away in the dried out soil.
Following the clouds because they lead to food for the livestock. This was the way to live for the nomadic Afar for a long time. But due to economic development and national borders, the available grazing land becomes smaller and smaller. This effect is reinforced by the degradation and desertification of the land. That’s why their herds of cattle are shrinking rapidly, what makes it difficult for the Afar to survive.
The ELRAP-Project follows the wish of the Afar in Arsis to change their lifestyle from traditional Pastoralists to Agro-Pastoralists.
To achieve the objectives of the project, it is necessary to build micro dams into the beds of the intermitted rivers – like a micro catchment similar to the surface of a shell. The collected water will be stored in reservoirs. To supplement the very low amount of rain (ca. 250 mm a–1), the water will be used to irrigate drought tolerant plants like maize, sorghum, lucerne, millet or hummingbird trees. Some of these plants are able to enhance soil fertility due to fixation of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. For further water savings, some pottery vessels will be buried. Around these vessels the plants are dibbled with an organic mixed fertilizer – first to ensure initial growth and second to increase soil fertility and water capacity. To ensure the sustainability of the project, it needs to to be investigated if it is possible to bore a well for additional irrigation water supply and to implement a trough for sheep, goats and other animals.
ELRAP has also a transdisciplinary approach: despite engineering techniques, the project takes the socio- economic impact of its interventions into account. All the implemented installations will be checked by our partner organisation SANRM in Ethiopia in a regular cycle. The socio-economic impact will similarly be measured and supervised by a student worker from Germany or Ethiopia.
State of Project:
In April 2015 a 4-weeks investigation journey was done and evaluated the concept with the local organization and the nomadic Clans.
IOG plans to go back in Arsis in 2016 to begin the installation with the help of a student writing his master thesis on this topic at the Humboldt University (Berlin) and the Leibniz Zentrum ZALF (Brandenburg).