For households in Ethiopia like Nasir’s, increasingly erratic weather patterns are having a negative impact on agricultural production and income. CARE’s USAID funded GRAD program shares information about climate risks with communities and introduces them to tools such as water harvesting and fast-maturing or drought-resistant crops that can help them adapt.
Nasir Mohammed’s Story
These days the rains are unpredictable, and sometimes—like over the past two years—we have almost no rain at all. That is climate change. I had heard about it before I joined GRAD, but I didn’t understand what it could mean for the people of Ethiopia. Through GRAD, we learned about its impact, and we learned that there are ways we can adapt, not just surrender.
Now I am planting trees: neem, mango, papaya, and coffee. These will provide shade for my compound and improve the nutrition of my family. I have also started harvesting water. I dug a small pond in my compound, and when it rains, I do everything I can to channel as much water as possible into the pond. I dig paths to guide the water so that I am catching as much as I can. Even though the water doesn’t last very long, it helps a lot.
The nearest source where we get our drinking water is two to three kilometers away. Each jerry can costs 50 cents (US $0.03), and I have to bring it with my donkey. There is no way I could afford to bring enough to water my vegetable garden or the trees.
The other thing I am now doing is inter-cropping maize and haricot beans. This is in part because I don’t have the space to grow them separately, but also because—thanks to the maize—the haricot beans get more moisture. As an improved seed, they need less water and their harvest time is shorter, so my family can survive on them until the maize is ready.
The changes in the rain are no small concern. When the scent of rain comes, I sow the seeds. After that, comes the worry. Sometimes I wake me up at night, go outside and look up, searching the sky for signs of rain. Now, we don’t know when or if it will come, but we do know some ways we can adapt. That has been one of GRAD’s main values for me.