Forests store and filter water, regulate the hydrologic balance, the ground-water level and the amount of water in streams and rivers increases. Groups of farmers, women and youth in the reforestation areas are using this water to grow vegetables and fruit trees, which directly contributes to the improvement of their nutrition.
In most areas of Ethiopia, water is either too far away or the stream has already made its way deep enough into the cultivated land to allow the precious water to be used for irrigation and agricultural production. By building dams and canals or using water pumps, it is thus possible to irrigate vegetable fields by means of the “Gravity-Irrigation” and to cultivate fruit trees either in one’s own garden or as a plantation.
Water projects are then only sustainable in the long term when, during the preparation phase, the land use and the payment of operating costs are clarified. The land use is therefore of particular importance, because every patch of fertile land has rights of use for the grain cultivation (that is, during the rainy season) with irrigation, but by far not the whole land can be irrigated. At the same time, the cultivation of vegetables fields also clearly demands a more intensive work than the grain fields. Therefore, a user group is determined, for example 10 women jointly own a water pump, and this group determines who can cultivate which patch of land, how much water is available to him or her, and what contribution he or she has to make to the maintenance costs.
Together with the groups of farmers, women and, rarely, with groups of youth, we meet the prerequisites for irrigation by means of dams and canals or by means of water pumps. In addition to that, we donate seeds to the beneficiaries or help them to establish a fruit tree orchard, for example by training them and producing fruit tree seedlings in the tree nurseries.
In this regard, we only work with beneficiaries who have already participated in our reforestation projects. In this way, they recognize the direct link between forests and water, the healthier nutrition and the incomes generated by vegetable cultivation and fruit trees. Thus, they do not only protect the existing forests, but also continue to plant trees, therefore helping to strengthen the natural resources and cycles further.
Water projects play an important role in our foundation and show how reforestation directly helps people and the environment as well as concretely improving the life of groups of farmers, women and young people and their families:
Trees – Forests – Water – Food – Life