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Food security in Tigray

Goat rearing is just one of the ways we helped increase incomes and food security in Tigray. Photo: Nichole Sobecki Goat rearing is just one of the ways we helped increase incomes and food security in Tigray. Photo: Nichole Sobecki

In the Tigray region of Ethiopia many women and increasing numbers of young people have no access to land. Land in Tigray is already scarce, and many farm sizes are very small.

Many women and especially widows struggle to produce enough to feed their families from small plots of land.

As life expectancy increases, the potential for sub-dividing farming plots reduces, leaving many young people with no assets. With poor education, these young people have few opportunities for employment locally and feel they have little choice but to migrate to the towns where they face threats such as drugs, sexual exploitation and HIV / AIDS.

High levels of poverty and malnutrition

Between 2012 and 2017, Farm Africa ran a project based in the central zone of the Tigray region where 80% of the population live in rural areas and levels of poverty and malnutrition are very high. The majority of the population produce less than half their annual minimal food requirements and 89% of the population earn less than £2 per day.

Women and children are especially at risk. Women in this region have worse nutrition than the national average, and a recent survey showed that nearly a third are underweight. Over half of under-fives show stunted growth.

Cereals form a large part of the diet. But as women have limited involvement in crop production and livestock management, they therefore have little or no access to essential nutritious foods such as milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables.

Supporting communities

This project aimed to help women and young people increase their incomes and improve their nutrition standards. We supported communities in Tigray to:

  • increase their annual income through beekeeping, goat rearing and poultry farming.
  • develop fruit and vegetable orchards on rehabilitated land, along with training in nursery management to produce quality seedlings of fruit, forage and vegetables.
  • explore opportunities for adding value to their crops, such as processing green pepper into pepper sauce.
  • develop a calendar identifying key shortage periods and introducing different types of grasses and shrubs to ensure adequate year-round forage supply.

Farm Africa also worked with the Tigray Regional Government and other key partners to undertake research and to develop a model for food security initiatives that can also be applied in other, wider areas.

The following series of documents shares the lessons Farm Africa learnt from over 25 years of working in Tigray:

Who are we helping?

This project worked directly with nearly 6,400 women and landless young people, providing them with crops and livestock as well as training.

Women are key caretakers of household food security, helping women farmers to boost their productivity help to improve child nutrition and overall welfare.

Who are we working with?

This project was funded with UK aid from the UK Government and Irish Aid.





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