Where there's water, there's life

Where there's water, there's life

The patch owned by Mohammed Seid’s family is an oasis of green in a barren, mountainous landscape.

Mohammed, 15 years old, has returned from a morning at school to tend his family’s crops with his younger brother. This season, the Seids are growing chillies, onions, tomatoes, carrots and bananas

“Before this we had nothing”

Three years ago the family was in receipt of emergency aid. “Before this we had nothing,” says the teenager. “Now we’ve been able to buy two oxen and three goats. We can buy other foods with the money we earn from selling some of our crops. With the irrigation system we can plant three times a year.” He’s talking about the diversion constructed along the river, by engineers from Concern Worldwide. This has brought water to nearby fields. 

This is the River Cheleka in Wollo in northern Ethiopia. Although the rains have failed this spring, it is still flowing. Many died in this area during the 1984 famine. But many of those deaths could probably have been prevented if the river had been used to irrigate the surrounding land. The diversion is one of nine similar projects in the area built by Concern. So successful is it that recently 400 officials from the Amhara regional government came to see it for themselves. Now they’ve asked Concern to run a workshop on how it was done.

Preventing disaster

Conscious of what happened here nearly 25 years ago, the project is also about preventing the worst effects of another disaster. It’s part of the concept known as “disaster risk reduction.” This can also include carrying out regular surveys to check malnutrition rates among young children.

Concern’s Endamalaw Belay says: “Here we’re addressing the disaster before it happens, before children start dying. Before this project started, most of our beneficiaries were receiving emergency relief,” he says. “Now they no longer need it.”

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