Ulla Tørnæs, Danish Minister of Development, and
The population in North Wollo is increasing, and productivity within agriculture has more or less been stagnant and unable to match the population increase. Furthermore, the area has witnessed a number of drought and famines, notably in 1974/75 and 1984/85, when thousands of people starved to death.
The Joint Programme was launched in 1997 as an integrated approach to development implemented jointly by the three Danish NGO’s DanChurchAid (DCA) Red Cross Society and Save the Children Denmark.
The programme consists of a health component implemented by Danish Red Cross, an educational component implemented by Save the Children and finally an agricultural component implemented by the Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus/ Lutheran World Federation with support from DanChurchAid.
To address the problems of drought, famine and the agriculture not producing enough to feed the increasing population, DCA/LWF has pursued an integrated relief to development strategy of engaging poor people in the construction of small scale irrigation schemes, soil and water conservation structures and agricultural development.
During her visit, Ulla Tørnæs was introduced to some of the impacts of the agriculture component. She visited one of the irrigation scheme sites that support over 550 households (about 3000 people) with a command area of 150 ha of productive land being irrigated.
In a meeting with the beneficiary farmers, one farmer expressed his gratitude to the Joint Programme for supporting the community with small scale irrigations and told the minister that with the access to irrigable land, the farmers could now produce 2 to 3 times a year by planting high cash value crops.
He claimed that he and many of his colleagues had earned cash worth 2,000 to 4,500 birr from a very small piece of land, enabling them to cover their household needs, including good health care, clothes and school expenses for their children.
Ulla Tørnæs was also introduced to the linkages in the Joint Programme when she visited an Alternative Basic Education Centre, next to which DCA has constructed two drinking water wells to serve 200 households and the school community.
By Kamilla Ekholdt Christensen, Junior Professional Officer (JPO), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia