A Hedge Against El Niño's Drought

Dinkie Kebede worked with FH to protect her family from the devastating impact of drought caused by El Niño. Dinkie Kebede, 50, is a widow from Ethiopia with five children and less than two acres of crop farmland on which to feed her family. Every year, she and her children faced hunger as her meager crops ran out. She had no additional source of income.

A Desperate Situation

Dinkie’s livelihood depended on rain-fed agriculture. The family had plenty of livestock before her husband died. Rather than allow her children to starve when the food ran out, Dinkie sold most of the livestock.

″All the family members were forced to live with a small income insufficient for clothing, spices such as salt and pepper, coffee, vegetables and school materials,” Dinkie said. “We were eating small portions of food twice a day just to sustain our lives.”

Renewed Hope and Possibilities

Through a USAID-funded food assistance program, Dinkie received training on horticulture and fruit production. Dinkie also received a watering can and seeds like tomato, Swiss chard, potato, cabbage and apple seedlings. In addition to providing training and agricultural supplies, Food for the Hungry constructed a hand-dug well with a rope pump.

Dinkie's well is a hedge against famine

Dinkie getting water from her Hand-dug well.

Dinkie could then cultivate vegetables on her arable land by using water from her hand-dug well. Not only has she been able to improve her family’s nutrition with three harvests each year, she sells her vegetables for additional income. One harvest results from rain-fed agriculture, and two from using well water.

Cushioning the El Niño Shock

Most important these days, Dinkie’s family has withstood the El Niño climate shock because of the well and their increased agricultural production. There was even money left over for structural improvements to her property. She is replacing her small house with an improved, wider two-room dwelling with a corrugated sheet metal roof. The house improvement was supposed to be part of Dinkie’s long-term plan, but she’s been able to start work more quickly than she thought with her increased income.

Besides household consumption, she obtained US $229 (ETB 5000) from the sale of vegetables, mainly from tomato sales. She can feed her children relatively nutrient-rich food without shortage and buy clothes and school supplies. Moreover, she has been able to retain her remaining livestock, and her eucalyptus that can be used for construction timber.

Want to help Food for the Hungry help people like Dinkie overcome hunger and potentially provide a hedge against drought? Give a donation here.