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Keeping her cattle alive keeps her family alive

Kaamila's Story

Kaamila lives in the lowlands of the Bale Eco-region, Ethiopia. She recently told us how working with Farm Africa has changed her life for the better. 

"My name is Kaamila, I am a mother and a farmer, and this kebele* is my birthplace. I produce crops and rear livestock for a living. I grow maize and I have cattle and goats.

Before the establishment of the Rangeland Management Co-operative, the grazing areas for our cattle would become very depleted. So every year during the dry season, we had to move to the highlands in search of food and water for our livestock.

We had to take everything we owned with us, so that our home would not be broken into while we were away: we didn’t leave anything.

Since we couldn’t leave the children alone, we had to take them with us to the forest. The teachers asked us: ‘Why are you taking the children with you to the forest?’, but we would reply ‘who would feed our children if we leave them here on their own?’

Life was not comfortable for us in the forest. During the night it was very cold. We were sleeping under thin canvas and had to make fires to keep warm. We got ill a lot during that time. The forest communities were not happy when we came, because they considered us deforesters: they told us we were harming the forest and criticised us lowlanders for damaging the coffee and the other resources. But we had no choice, we had to keep our cattle alive.

It’s been four years since I stopped moving to the forest. Since the establishment of the Rangeland Management Co-operative there have been many differences in our lives.

The big difference has been the introduction of rotational grazing: we have divided our land into blocks and agreed which blocks are used for grazing in the dry and rainy seasons. It means we are able to feed our cattle all year because we now have enough grass in the rangeland.

As we don’t need to go to the forest anymore, my children can go to school all year round. They have to have education. They have to learn and follow their classes - now that we can stay here, they can.

The animals also look very different to how they did previously. People from other kebeles ask us if they are from the forest, if they are highland cows. Highland cows are known to be stronger. But no, they are our lowland cows but just in so much better health than they were before!

Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story. You have supported us a lot to date and I want to send my thanks for that."

* Kebele = neighbourhood