Halaba, a district in the south west of Ethiopia, has been badly hit by the current drought, linked to El Niño. Smallholder farmer Hamid Heramo, a 35-year-old father, has been severely affected. His crops have failed, which has had a devastating impact on his income and his family's health.
“In the 2015 rainy season I planted crops hoping to harvest as a farmer. But the rain did not come for consequent months. Each day I woke up, I used to look up to the sky hoping to see rain clouds. But again and again, there was no rain and the sun became stronger and stronger.
As months passed by without rain, the crops began to wither and die. It was horrible to see their leaves falling down. All the crops failed – whether it was pepper or maize or teff or sorghum or haricot beans. I lost everything. The same happened to farmers in the kebele. This was something strange to us. I remember times of rain shortage before, at least we succeeded in harvesting at least one or two crops. These days, nothing is left.
I became psychologically ill. I used to get faint whenever I took a look at my farm. I had never been sick in my life before. But last year I had to be admitted in the nearest health centre to get treatment for depression and high blood pressure. My wife was also sick. This made the whole family worried. I had to pay for my medical expenses.
As a father, I have the responsibility to feed my children and cover their school fees. But how? I had to sell my farm animals to survive.Those were my precious animals that were meant to help me endure the problem.”
Farm Africa is responding to the problems facing farmers like Hamid by introducing climate-smart agricultural techniques. This will help farmers in Halaba to diversify their incomes, build resilience against future droughts, and protect the ecosystems in which they farm.
“Farm Africa is helping us by providing improved seeds like maize, haricot beans and chickpeas. They are teaching us how to manage our soil and water properly. We are now aware of protecting our environment, protecting what we have.
Furthermore, many women in the neighbourhood have been given female goats - two goats for each woman. This is great as a means of survival. Nevertheless, there are many more who are needy.
Representing farmers in my village, I would like to pass our message to the outside world calling for help to cope with the drought."