Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent country and its second largest by population. Its unique cultural and historic heritage is fascinating. As the only African country that upheld its sovereignty, Ethiopia served as a symbol of African independence throughout the colonial period.
As an active member of United Nations since 1945, it is also base to many international organizations and headquarters to the African Union and UN agencies. The main challenge for Ethiopia is to continue progress made in recent years towards the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) and to address the causes of poverty among its population.
Before it officially registered in Ethiopia, VSFG partnered with the local NGO EpaRDA on a cross border project in South Omo in 2009 (the project was titled ‘Improved Community Response to Drought Phase I’ and was funded by ECHO). We then registered as an international charity in May 2010 and began implementing the SNNPF project in two woredas (districts) of South Omo Zone, namely Hamer and Dassanech.
VSFG also implemented the project ‘Improving Agricultural Solution (IAS)’ in Dassanech district with funding from DFID through FAO from May 2014 to August 2016. Currently VSFG and its partners Vita, Amref Health Africa, International Development Enterprise (IDE) and Action for Development (AFD) secured EU funding for the second phase of the ‘Resilience Building in Ethiopia Program (RESET II)’ in South Omo cluster in three woredas. Here, VSFG has been in charge of implementing the livelihood (livestock) component of the project across the three districts (Hamer, Dassanech and Nyagatom) since September 2016.
VSFG has been operational in Afar since 2012 and has been implementing different emergency and resilience building projects on livelihood and WASH (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene) sectors in zones 1, 2 and 5 of Afar region (namely Afdera, Berehale, Aba‘ala, Megale Erebti, Mille, Dalifage, Ada’ar, Telalak and Dewe). In collaboration with FAO and Afar Region Pastoral Agriculture Development Bureau, VSFG is implementing the so called PPR (Peste Petits Ruminants) project since January 2016 as part of the long-term EC-funded ‘Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience (SHARE)’ initiatives across all districts of the Afar region.
As a response to El Niño induced drought emergency in Afar region, VSFG is also implementing an ECHO-funded project in five districts (Aba’ala, Erebti, Ada’ae, Dewe and Telalak) since March 2016 for a period of one year. Additionally, we have been implementing an OFDA-funded project in three districts (Aba’ala, Bereale and Kuneba) for a period of one year since October 2016. VSFG and its partner SCI, Amref Health Africa and La Volunteers International Association (LVIA) also secured again EU funding for a second phase of the ‘Resilience Building in Ethiopia program (RESET II)’ in Afar cluster in eight districts. For this project, VSFG is responsible for implementing the project in three districts of zone 1 (Asayita, Afambo and Elida’ar) since October 2016.
Drought hazards in 2015 were especially severe and impacted many countries including those in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia in particular was one of the worst hit countries: here, the drought, exacerbated by El Niño, impacted the lives and livelihoods of over 10 million people.
Afar National Regional State (ANRS) is situated in the arid lowlands of Ethiopia to the north-eastern part and was one of the badly hit areas from the 2015/16 drought in Ethiopia. It is about 100,000 km² wide and has a population of approximately 1.4 million. It covers about 10% of the country and almost 30% of its pastoral lowlands. Afar pastoralism is heavily dependent on rainfall, which is why the lack thereof quickly and surely leads to a food security emergency.
The 2015 kerma rain (March–April) was poor and the subsequent 2015 Sugum rain (July–September) was delayed by more than five weeks and when it did finally arrive it was well below average with an uneven distribution. Consequently, pastoralists and agro-pastoralists experienced water shortages, children and lactating mothers were seriously malnourished and livestock died because of water shortages and other drought effects.
Following the emergency appeal by the Federal Government of Ethiopia in 2015 and through direct funding from UN-OCHA, VSFG designed an emergency support project in Erebti, Aba’ala and Berehale districts of ANRS. The project “Nutrition Sensitive Livelihood Intervention” has been implemented from July 2015 to March 2016 in the three districts.
The project focused on different good practice elements such as emergency goat feeding, animal health and water resource rehabilitation.