Climate change: how low tech Ethiopian environmentalism is saving the planet and creating jobs

July 6, 2015

by Yoseph Kebede – Ventures Africa

 A rural Ethiopian village has been fighting climate change with the low tech, innovative practice of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration, creating new jobs and sources of  funding for local businesses.

The woreda or district of Humbo liesabout 420 kilometres southwest of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. A rise of lush green mountains looming over an expansive plain, the area, flawless in its beauty and full of fresh air, appears almost untouched since prehistoric times. However, just 10 years ago, the area looked completely different. Threatened by desertification and devoid of trees after years of deforestation, Humbo’s hillsides, which suffered from massive erosion and decreased agricultural productivity due to nutrient loss from soil run off, looked like the scarred surface of another planet.

Desertification is a major problem in parts of Ethiopia, as it is across many parts of the African continent. As the impacts of global climate change become more pronounced, each year African countries that incorporate or border the vast Sahara loose more and more arable land to an ever-encroaching desert. Growing populations require more land to support agriculture, which leads to the cutting down of large tracts of forest that could act as a bulwark against desertification. Though the country’s government boasts of restoring the country’s forest coverage to a little over 10 percent, some reports suggest that Ethiopia has under 3 percent of its native forest cover, while over 70 percent of its land is threatened by desertification. Deforestation also exacerbates drought and flooding by reducing the land’s ability to absorb water. The result is increasingly vicious cycles of unpredictable flooding and drought which further hamper local crop production and increase food insecurity.

For Ergana Soresa, a local farmer, and many of the other residents in the Humbo woreda, the economic consequences of environmental degradation are real…