Win-win for communities and Bale Mountains National Park
FZS’s nature conservation does not end abruptly at the edge of our protected areas. A single mother of twelve, a pair of farmers with heavily eroded land and beekeepers who now obtain 200% more honey from their hives, are all people who have benefited from FZS knowledge or resources.
Mother of 12
Previously, Nuri earned her living herding cattle. To feed her herd she would take them into the Harenna Forest, the only place at the time with sufficient amounts of food for her animals. However, letting cattle graze in the forest is illegal, and the way there is both long and arduous. Because of this difficult journey she would also remain inside the forest for days, sleeping in a drafty wooden hut.
Things have since changed and today she no longer keeps livestock. Instead, courses offered by FZS have inspired her to grow wheat using self-made compost which provides a cheaper and more efficient fertilizer than what she used before. Her crop yields, thanks to this compost are much higher per square meter than they were when she used commercial fertilizer. Additionally, she also has banana and sugarcane plants, in the shade of which she can grow coffee, a plant that is often also grown illegally in the Harenna forest. By growing this crop here, she is showing others in the community that it is possible to grow crops legally, and closer to home.
Nuri has 12 children and has become the sole breadwinner after her husband left. Fortunately, now she manages so well on her own that she can even take care of several orphan children in addition to her own. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved, both for Nuri and the Harenna forest.
Saving eroded land
Recently they learned that digging narrow water catchment channels, with small mounds in between would help keep water on their property, allowing for plants, such as pigeon peas to grow. They chose this plant because it is a legume, which means it fixes nitrogen and forms root nodules, this in turn stabilizes the soil even more and helps prevent erosion. This new stability gives other plants a chance to germinate and grow there too.
The peas provide other uses too, as fodder plants for Sultan and Fatuma's cattle and the seeds can be sold to neighbors who are also eager to employ the same soil erosion prevention methods that Sultan and Fatuma are using.
They told me that they were able to afford this house thanks to beekeeping training and honey production courses where they learned to build modern hives. Now, thanks to the course they obtain 200% more honey per hive. They also received training in poultry farming and a starter flock of ten chickens.
Surplus money that they obtain, they are able to invest in a local microcredit scheme, from which they are enjoying returns. Ruziya and Mohammed are now able to earn a profitable living, without harming the natural resources of the National Park.
About the author
Images in header taken by Daniel Rosengren