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Plant-for-Ethiopia: It is getting hot and dry on the planting site

In August 2019 we began planting trees in Ethiopia together with local youth groups. The first group was established in partnership with the Ethiopian-Orthodox Tewahido Church. Together we want to plant, learn and at the same time tackle the climate crisis.

The effects of the climate crisis are already clearly visible and have a significant impact on our work in Ethiopia. Mid 2020, for example, we had to cope with unprecedented heavy rainfall, causing the river near our planting site to flood. This damaged some of the seedlings in our nursery. Now we find ourselves confronted by the completely opposite situation; since September there has been a severe drought. The wet and dry seasons are getting noticeably more and more extreme and unpredictable and we are working and learning to respond to these challenges.

The seedlings that were planted during the 2020 planting season need a lot of support to survive their first year. To irrigate the seedlings as effectively as possible, we use a drip irrigation system in which no water is lost, whilst the plants receive directly as much water as possible. We are fortunate to have a water source nearby; however, this source, the same river that flooded is now drying out.

We are also in the process of creating several structures to harvest rainfall and store water, to be ready when the short rains are coming. For example, the youth group has already built a water reservoir to irrigate the seedlings even in during this long dry season. The reservoir has been constructed at the centre of the planting site and can hold more than 11,000 liters of water – already now it’s significantly helping our seedlings to survive.

With these methods the youth group is doing wonderful work and showing exceptional motivation and efforts to bridge the dry season until around May. We are full of hope that we can help the young saplings to survive this time and plant many more new and healthy trees this year and in the years to follow – thanks to our great partners in South Gondar.