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Farming in Ethiopia

Send A Cow Ethiopia

Send A Cow Ethiopia

Ellie Poole, Send A Cow Volunteer Shares With Us Her Time in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the 7 African countries that Send A Cow works with – the others being Burundi, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia. Since becoming involved in Ethiopia in 1989, Send A Cow has been working to improve training in animal management and knowledge on soil erosion so that farmers in Ethiopia can get the best out of their land and their soil in order to support their families and help their community.

In April of this year, I got the opportunity to visit Ethiopia with Send A Cow. As it was my first time in Africa, I was unsure of what to expect. My granddad, David Bragg, is one of the founders of Send A Cow from back in 1988. He’s worked with them since, visiting different countries in Africa very regularly. Because of this, stories, souvenirs, paintings, books, photographs, food, jewellery, clothes and even people from Africa have made up what feels like a large portion of my childhood. So whilst my jumble of expectations made it all seem rather terrifying, when I stepped out of the airport into the hot African sun for the first time, some part of me felt like I was in a place I already knew.

Addis Ababa is the capital of Ethiopia, and the location of the airport, but we weren’t in the city for long. The purpose of our trip was to visit farmers out in the vast expanse of rural Ethiopia to find out how their lives have been changed by the Send A Cow projects. There was a lot to fit in, which meant a lot of driving. The roads were a fascinating feature of Ethiopia. The main roads ran in long, straight lines through wide, open stretches of countryside. Little circular houses were dotted at intervals along the side of them, and you’d be lucky if you didn’t have to overtake a donkey pulling a loaded cart or a flock of sheep or herd of cattle every few metres. In fact, I think we spent more time driving on the wrong side of the road than we did the right. The highland roads were rocky, muddy in rain, and uneven. A great experience if you enjoy very bumpy car journeys!

Each farm we visited accommodated people who had interesting and extraordinarily different stories to tell. One farm we visited was in Gunono, an area in the zone of Wolayita. It was home to a man called Teferi Tanto and his wife, Almaz Bancha, and their seven children. Teferi joined Send A Cow one year and two months prior to our visit. When he was first approached by the project in his area, he admitted that he wasn’t convinced. So, he was given the opportunity to go to another community that Send A Cow had been working with to find out how it would work. He was then given onion seeds by the charity, which he sold for 300 Birr, which is the same as £9.27. Finally, he came to the decision that he would work with Send A Cow. “I decided that either poverty can kill me, or I can kill poverty,” he told us at our visit. From then on, he never looked back. He has earnt more and more from his produce than ever before.

Send A Cow focuses on helping people in Ethiopia to use the resources and livestock they already have. They do this by giving farmers training that they can pass on to others in the community. This way, they are learning how to help themselves, which is more effective in terms of development than relying on others to help them. However, it was still surprising to find that some farmers were unaware of the benefits of the resources around them. For example, a river flowed past Teferi’s farm in Gunono, but whilst he and the community around him utilised the river for washing and cooking, the benefits of using it to water their crops had never occurred to them. This is a key example of how poverty can cause ignorance, and this is one of the things Send A Cow aim to abolish.

The development of Ethiopia, as it is in many countries like it, was frequently sporadic. We finished off our trip with a meal in a glamourous London-style Italian restaurant in Addis Ababa. This, against the places we’d eaten at before, was an enormous contrast. What was more, the view from the window looked out onto all the smaller, typical of Africa market stalls, showing just how irregular the level of development across the city is.

Addis Ababa is a growing city. It has expanded and developed rapidly, especially over the last fifteen years. Send A Cow hopes that the rest of the country, including rural areas, will follow in its footsteps. My visit to Ethiopia was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I sincerely hope that one day I’ll be able to visit again, and I hope that when I do, Send A Cow will have been able to help more and more people like Teferi Tanto and his family, changing the lives of more African people for good. 



Source Details

Ellie Poole - Volunteer for Send A Cow

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