Farmers living in the Tigray Region of northern Ethiopia are no strangers to challenging weather. They have a long history of working their farms using sophisticated knowledge handed down over generations. They know how to adapt to cycles of nature. But the worst drought in 50 years coupled with one of the strongest El Niño events on record has stretched them to their breaking point.
That’s why we’ve been working with our longtime broadcasting partner, Dimtsi Weyane Tigray, to air a participatory radio program designed to help farmers cope with the ongoing drought and threat of sudden, heavy rains. Elias Wolde, a project officer in FRI’s Ethiopia office, recently met with some of the farmers reached by the broadcasts to learn how radio has helped.
Melese Nigussie farms one hectare of land in the Abergele woreda (district) of the Tigray Region. He says that the lack of rain, followed by pests, meant that he wasn’t even able to grow “a fistful of grain.”
But Dimtsi Weyane Tigray has helped him, and he tunes in regularly to deal with his present challenges and plan for the future. As he says, “The problem has occurred once. We need the support of radio and experts to recover from it.”
Through the radio, he learned how to capture drinking water for his animals. “After listening to the radio program, I started digging a shallow well to capture rainwater that drops sometimes. This eases my worries in getting drinking water for [my] animals.”
Assefa Wolde-Gebriel also raises livestock. He tunes into the radio broadcasts from his home in Kola Tembien woreda. He says, “I heard the radio broadcasters talking about the preparation of animal feed from failed crops. That was important for me because animal feed was not available even in the market.”
Worknesh Belay has also been tuning into Dimtsi Weyane Tigray from her home in Abergele woreda. She says that the broadcasts have not only provided information, but also hope.
“What I hear from the radio always encourages me. It gives me hope and strength when I hear [that] the government and other people are making efforts to help us.”
Made possible with the support of Irish Aid, the Developing demand-led, interactive farm radio services project is expected to reach 750,000 farmers in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia with information on nutrition-sensitive and climate-smart agricultural practices.