Ethiopia: FAO, Ifad Come to the Rescue of Ethiopia's Climate Shocks On Agriculture

For more than two decades, climate change has placed a major stress on the Ethiopian economy and on people's livelihoods.

Most of the population of lowland areas are dependent on rain-fed agriculture and pastoralism, and are therefore highly vulnerable to droughts, desertification and floods. Due to this,the agricultural sector is put under pressure and thus, vulnerable families are affected.

This comes in the wake of the Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) infestation in Ethiopia has deteriorated, despite ongoing ground and aerial control operations.

Together with the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has called for immediate action to control the infestation.

According to FAO reports, hoppers have fledged, and an increasing number of small immature and mature swarms have continued to devour crop and pasture fields in Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, and Somali regional states. In Amhara, some farms have registered nearly 100 percent loss of teff, a staple crop in Ethiopia. Moreover, eggs are hatching profusely and forming hopper bands in the Somali region, due to the heavy rainfall. The hopper bands recorded to date have covered more than 351 km2 and are consuming at least 1 755 000 MT of green vegetation per day.

Ms. Fatouma Seid, the FAO Representative in Ethiopia said, "We need to act fast and mobilise the required resources urgently to scale up control and preventive measures.

If not controlled, the Desert Locusts could continue moving within Ethiopia and invade northeast Kenya, the western lowlands and highlands of Eritrea, the Red Sea coastal plains in Eritrea, and adjacent southern coastal areas in Sudan.

In November and December 2019, FAO and the Government of Ethiopia will work to scale up control measures for fledgling hoppers, immature adults and newly arrived egg-laying swarms, particularly in the Somali region and other winter breeding areas.

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has also thrown its weight behind the agricultural sector in Ethiopia.

Half a million of Ethiopia's most vulnerable families are set to benefit from a new US$451 million project to increase their resilience to climate shocks in the country's poorest regions.

A financing agreement for the Lowlands Livelihood Resilience Project was signed today by Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and Zenebu Tadesse Woldetsadik, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome.

The funding includes a $90 million loan from IFAD and $350 million in co-financing from the International Development Association (80 per cent loan and 20 per cent grant) and $11million from the beneficiaries themselves.

The project, primarily designed to help achieve Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2 (eradicating poverty and hunger) will install small-scale irrigation technology to reduce dependence on erratic rains. It will also help smallholder farmers to invest in research systems for faster adaptation to climate change.

Project activities will also strengthen rangeland and natural resources management, and improve the delivery of basic social services so that rural communities can withstand droughts and other climate shocks, and reduce asset losses. It will also help mitigate conflicts over scarce resources in fragile pastoral and agro-pastoral ecosystems.

"This new project will develop an innovative value chain approach to leverage private investment, productivity and win-win commercial linkages between local businesses," said Ulaç Demirag, Country Director for Ethiopia. "The approach will enable project clients to sustain and improve their livelihoods after completion of the project."

The project also aims to improve nutrition by providing education on food handling and food preservation, and the production of more nutritious and diverse crops with access to bio-fortified seeds and technical assistance, including on post-harvest handling.

Women (50 per cent of participants) and young people will especially benefit from project activities that will cover the pastoral and agro-pastoral areas in the Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambela, Oromia, Somali and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' regions.

Since 1980, IFAD has invested $755.5 million in 19 rural development programmes and projects worth $1.8 billion in Ethiopia. These have directly benefited around 11.5 million rural households.

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