Tune in to learn more about how we are helping radio broadcasters support farmers in Ethiopia, as they cope with severe drought conditions.
Fifteen men are lined up in a row on the teff farm of Teshaye Goitom, in the Hadegti village of western Tigray, Ethiopia. Their pose makes them seem as though they are competing for the hundred meter sprint. But this is not a race. Rather, it is an effort to rescue crops from potential destruction due to a very unusual rainy season: the rains were late in coming, and then when they did come, it was at exactly the wrong time.
The drought situation
The Tigray region is one of the regions that will be most affected by drought this year, as a result of one of the worst El Niño events in recent years coupled with climate change.
“This year we have experienced a delay of rainfall. Now, we are experiencing rainfall just when the crops were maturing — very untimely,” Teshaye explains.
These men are members of a community listening group. Radio is helping this community face the drought. “Radio can help us to deal with these difficulties through providing information on how to cope up with the undesirable effects of the drought,” he said.
The effects of El Niño and the ensuing drought has meant that many farmers are facing food shortages and livestock are in danger of starvation. UNICEF has estimated that 350,000 individuals in the region require emergency food aid.
Despite the gravity of the situation, there is hope that the magnitude of the drought can be reduced. Farmers in Tigray want to practice informed drought responses. Gebrehiwot Tesfay, a broadcaster at Dimtsi Weyane Tigray radio station, says that farmers repeatedly asked his radio station provide information on how to cope with the current drought.
How radio is addressing drought conditions
Gebrehiwot’s radio program was originally designed to cover a set of agricultural topics such as environmental conservation, micro-irrigation, vegetable cropping, animal husbandry, bee-hiving, nutrition, marketing and others.
But that plan has since changed. “In accordance with our plan, our most recent radio program was about water harvesting and proper utilization of the already harvested water. But then listeners, especially farmers, started to call and suggested that the agriculture program which had been broadcast wasn’t helping them address the existing seasonal situation of the region because the summer [main season] rain was not satisfactory in most parts of the region. . . . For farmers without rain, the programs we planned were kind of senseless.”
So, with Farm Radio International’s help, the Dimtsi Weyane radio station designed a brand new 10-week-long drought and humanitarian response radio initiative. The radio program focuses on issues surrounding weather forecasts, drought coping mechanisms, failed crop management and livestock care.
Farmers are being advised on early harvesting, using failed crops as feed for livestock and price information for selling off livestock. The radio programs have also shared information on potential livestock diseases and alternative feed sources.
Farmers appreciate how quickly Dimsti Weyane adjusted to meet their needs. They expect this new radio series to provide information that enables them to cope with the drought. The program in turn attempts to meet their ongoing needs as they struggle to overcome the impact of El Nino and climate change. Only time can answer what impact the radio series will have on the capacity of farmers to adapt to the drought.
Dimtsi Weyane radio station is a partner in our “Developing ongoing demand-led Interactive Farm Radio Services” project, funded by Irish Aid.