Organic Resource use in Rural Africa network
The Network of Organic Resource use in rural Africa activity worked with a range of Ethiopian partners, including regional and local policy makers, scientists, entrepreneurs, industry and civil society to co-design research on organic resource use in rural areas of Ethiopia.
Activities included group discussions, households and civil society organisations, meetings with NGOs and policy makers and a workshop.
The Ethiopian partners identified Halaba woreda (district) as the area in which to focus. It is a special district with a population of around 300,000 which reports directly to regional government allowing all levels of policy makers to be more easily contacted.
Discussions with the local Head of the Bureau of Agriculture led to arrangements for two focus groups being organised in two kebeles (localities), representing different levels of access for water, sanitation, waste management and energy. A focus group discussion was held by Ethiopian partners with a group of 4 women, 4 farmers and 4 elders. The team also talked individually to the Head of the kebele, local officials, and a farmer who also provided a short tour of their holding and homestead.
The network held a stakeholder workshop at Hawassa University, Ethiopia on 5 December 2015 as part of the discussions between the Ethiopian and UK academic project partners with various stakeholders, to help identify
- what new knowledge and research could help improve organic resource use
- what the priorities are
- how any research could be communicated to the key stakeholders most effectively.
A range of participants including people from local and regional government; regional and local bureaus dealing with water, energy, agriculture and natural resources; local and international scientific experts from the Southern Agricultural Research Institute (SARI); Hawassa University; the International Water Management Institute and the Centre for International Forestry Research took part in the workshop.
Anteneh Fedaku (SARI) from the project team welcomed the participants, after which Professor Euan Phimister from the University of Aberdeen, gave a brief overview of the background to the Nexus Network and the Organic Resource use project.
Dr Tewedros Tefera (Hawassa University) presented the issues emerging from the local project team’s discussions with local policy stakeholders, farmers and householders in Halaba district, around the current use of organic resources and how the problems people faced impacted on organic resource use. For example, how limited access to water for cattle during the dry season increased the distance cattle had to be herded reducing cow dung availability for household use.
Dr Habtemariam Kassa (Centre for International Forestry Research) provided an overview on understanding the energy, food and water nexus for organic resources at an Ethiopian national levels, the challenges in linking national plans to rural landscapes and households, and the need to provide a range of options for different local people in different situations.
The lively group discussions provided an illustration of the usefulness of bringing together experts and policy makers across the water, energy and food nexus, and emphasized the scale of the challenge in finding ways to increase available biomass to improve food productivity, which fit with what local people want in the face of decisions many are forced to make due to the extreme variations in water availability.
Images of the team in Ethiopia working with local stakeholders and discussing organic resource solutions for the rural poor, with many thanks to Professor Paul Hallett from the University of Aberdeen. Follow Paul on twitter for updates @