You are here: Home > News > Blogs > Postcard from Ethiopia: a green invasion

Postcard from Ethiopia: a green invasion

30 October 2012

Postcard from Ethiopia: a green invasion

Photo: Now his land is cleared of Prosopis, Hassen Seid's cattle can use it for grazing.

By Samrawit Sintayehu

It was an Ethiopian New Year week, usually a season that fits well with the flowering season, when I and two Ethiopian Press Agency journalists left Addis Ababa for our Afar Prosospis management programme site.

Given the arid weather conditions in the region, one would be highly surprised that the area is currently covered by green trees. No one would think that this green tree causes a tough time for the local pastoralists and their precious cattle – one would think it is a good opportunity for animal shading and pasture.

The evergreen tree that covers larger parts of the Afar region is called Prosopis Juliflora. It was first introduced in the region in the 1990s, with a hope it would contribute positively to the environment.

However, in the past 20 years, Prosopis did the reverse. It invaded the limited grazing areas, closed access to roads and water points, and caused injuries to people and animals.

But these negative consequences are not well known and recognised – and the journalists were shocked by what they saw.

Ever-expanding shrub

The Prosopis invasion accounts for about 80% of the total area of the region, according to recent statistics. Despite this, very limited intervention is taken by government to tackle the ever-expanding shrub.

Farm Africa started implementing a programme to control the shrub seven years ago.

Hassen Seid has been clearing Prosopis trees from his cattle’s grazing areas for the past three years, based on the training and support he gets from Farm Africa.

“It is always there”

While he was interviewed by the journalists about Prosopis invasion he said: “Invasion by external enemies is preferable to Prosopis invasion… you may fight with them and you may win or lose after a time. But for Prosopis, there is no win or lose principle. It is always there and you need continuous follow up.”

Hassen explained how Prosopis is a challenge for the community. He told us a number of pastoralists have left the area because of Prosopis. He said Farm Africa’s impressive work controlling the shrub is helping them find other activities as a means of survival.

Find out more about our work in Ethiopia

Read about our Prosopis management programme

Watch our video on our work to clear land of Prosopis:

 - Samrawit is Farm Africa’s communications officer in Ethiopia