In Ethiopia, irrigation brings more than water.

In Ethiopia, irrigation brings more than water.

http://firstperson.oxfamamerica.org/2013/10/24/in-ethiopia-irrigation-brings-more-than-water/

October 24th, 2013 | by Coco McCabe

To build the irrigation channel required not just untold hours of labor but ingenuity. How do you get tons of concrete across a raging river when the only bridge is a stretch of logs packed with dirt? This feat of back-breaking labor: the construction of 1.5 kilometres of concrete channel that has now brought farmers in Girisa, Ethiopia, a steady supply of water. Without it, their families would go hungry.

It was just another sign of the intrepid spirit that inspired this feat of back-breaking labor: the construction of 1.5 kilometres of concrete channel that has now brought farmers in Girisa, Ethiopia, a steady supply of water. Without it, their families would go hungry.

A channel for the Girisa-Golba irrigation project brings water from the Dadaba River to farmers. Photo by Eva-Lotta Jansson/Oxfam America

To build the irrigation channel on the other side required not just untold hours of labor but ingenuity. How do you get tons of concrete across a raging river when the only bridge is a stretch of logs packed with dirt? The answer was to assemble a metal shoot on the side of the gorge and slide the construction materials down it to the river’s edge. From there, laborers—many of them local villagers hired by the construction company–did the rest of the porting on their backs.

As I sat in the shade of a tree outside Aliye Bati’s home a short hike from the end of the irrigation channel, it was clear what the hard-won and precious water meant to him. Because of a shortage of rain, there was not enough food, said Bati simply. For a farmer with six children to feed, a lack of rain could be devastating. But now, the onions, cabbage, coffee beans, and papaya Bati grows have a steady supply of water, ensuring that not only can his family eat, but  that there is income to send his children to school—an opportunity he never had.

And the power of the water doesn’t stop there. Across the river, Oxfam and CDI are building a second irrigation line to bring farmers in the Arsi Negele district a supply, too.

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