Ring-basin infiltration pits in a perma-garden. The pits help to recharge and retain groundwater.
Photo: © HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation / Patrick Rohr

Enhancing climate resilience in semi-arid regions of Ethiopia

Thanks to innovative technologies, families living in semi-arid regions in northern Ethiopia manage to harvest despite less rainfall. Helvetas projects focus on sustainable watershed management, improved agricultural production and increased household incomes, thus improving the livelihood of the rural population and alleviating climate change impacts.

In the north of Ethiopia, where Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation operates, climate variability is a harsh reality for small-scale farmers who largely depend on subsistence agriculture. Over the past 40 years, changes in climate patterns have been linked to erratic, less predictable and often shorter rainy seasons.

“Nowadays, the “belg” rainy season (March to June) is weak or even missing. Today, we are left with only one rainy season, known as “kiremt” (June to September) which often begins late and ends early. As a result, agricultural production has become unreliable. The low or failed rainfall during March and April (belg season) makes it almost impossible to grow cereals during this period,” says Mrs Abeba Hagos from Negash village in the province of Tigray.

Moreover weather events in the region have also become more intense and frequent. As a result, farmers are constantly coping with the adverse impacts of climate change and variability. But there is a limit to their abilities to adapt: most small-scale farmers are unable to afford and implement effective measures to adjust their production systems, take necessary risks and utilise up-to-date technologies.

Focus on livelihoods’ promotion and natural resource management

The focus of Helvetas projects in the Tigray region and Wag-Himera zone has been on poverty reduction through livelihood promotion and natural resource management. To achieve these goals, Helvetas has promoted interventions related to sustainable watershed management, improved agricultural production and increased household incomes, thereby improving food security. Most of these interventions have both direct and indirect impacts on reducing the adverse effects of climate change and contributing to local climate resilience.

Helvetas has devoted time and resources to better analyse and understand the contribution each intervention makes towards climate resilience. Applying the Climate Resilience Framework and the Disaster Risk Management Staircase has proved to be a solid and sound approach for this analytical work.

The result is a series of publications – one main publication and five thematic leaflets – in which Helvetas illustrates how it supports women and men in semi-arid regions in northern Ethiopia. The main publication “Enhancing climate resilience in semi-arid regions in Ethiopia” presents how to make the livelihoods and ecosystems more climate resilient and thus to enhance the abilities to manage risks brought on by disasters.

The five thematic leaflets focus on specific interventions applied in the semi-arid regions of northern Ethiopia:

No.1: Reducing climate impacts and avoiding new risks with intensive hillside farming

No. 2: Roof water harvesting system: the Kalamino cistern as an effective measure for overcoming water shortages

No. 3: Ring-basin infiltration pits in smallholders’ backyards to adapt to moisture stress

No. 4: Perma-garden in smallholders’ backyards to cope and adapt to climate shocks

No. 5: Promotion of economic diversification and improved farming practices to adapt to climate variability and extreme weather events

 

Nicole Clot, Senior Advisor Adaptation to Climate Change, Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, Zürich, Switzerland

 

More information:

Link to Helvetas website

Link to main publication on projects in Ethiopia

Link to no 1 leaflet: Reducing climate impacts and avoiding new risks with intensive hillside farming

Link to no 2 leaflet: Roof water harvesting system: the Kalamino cistern as an effective measure for overcoming water shortages

Link to no 3 leaflet: Ring-basin infiltration pits in smallholders’ backyards to adapt to moisture stress

Link to no 4 leaflet: Perma-garden in smallholders’ backyards to cope and adapt to climate shocks

Link to no 5 leaflet: Promotion of economic diversification and improved farming practices to adapt to climate variability and extreme weather events