Abdella has taken advantage of the introduction of new cattle breeds that produce more milk and are physically stronger than the traditional cattle of the region.
Abdella lives on the edge of the eastern city of Dire Dawa. His family have been farming using traditional methods for generations. However, in the past two decades the weather has changed, longer spells of dry weather have interrupted the rainy seasons which could formerly be relied upon by farmers to enable them to sow their crops. Cattle and livestock now face less access to water and traditionally grown crops are less suited to the new long dry spells.
With drought soil becomes compacted, when it does rain there is an increased risk of water run-off causing flood and damage to crops. The irony of this double threat is not lost on farmers whose lives have been turned upside down and the future of their families placed in constant jeopardy.
Abdella was one of the first farmers in the region to respond to an invitation by Partners for Change to learn new farming methods, to work together with his neighbours to create shared solutions to the new threats posed by the changing climate.
Despite the serious threat to his livelihood Abdella has transformed the way he farms. He has learnt to diversify, how to plant crops that are more drought resistant such as sorghum and has set up a small dairy farm with improved breeds of cows. He has also learnt how to sow seeds when the rains appear, rather than wait until the traditional sowing season. In this way he often manages to have two harvests. Crucial to this has been learning how to dig irrigation channels to water his crops when it starts raining. He has also learnt simple but highly effective water harvesting techniques.
Abdella has also learnt how to run a dairy farm. He has taken advantage of the introduction of new cattle breeds that produce more milk and are physically stronger than the traditional cattle of the region.
Crucially Abdella has learnt how to work with his neighbours. Previously they eyed each other with suspicion and saw each other as competitors rather than allies. Partners for Change brought farmers together to discuss their experiences and to find new ways of working with the changing weather rather than hoping it is business as usual.
With all of these new activities Abdella has changed his thinking and approach to farming and in doing so has successfully turned adversity into opportunity.