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Surviving Climate Disaster in Africa's Sahel

Nakfa - (Photo Credit: Sophia Tesfamariam)



Surviving Climate Disaster in Africa's Sahel

For over 30 years the great Sahel Desert region in Africa has been a harbinger of the coming climate disaster our planet is facing and surviving such has become a national priority here in Eritrea on the eastern end of the Sahel.

Remember Michael Jackson and the great Ethiopian drought and famine of the early 1980’s? That was just the beginning. In 2003 and 2004 we here in Eritrea next door to Ethiopia suffered the first two year drought in history, followed in 2008 and 2009 by another back to back drought. Including the failure of the rains in 2013 Eritrea suffered 5 years of drought in a single decade.

This isn’t climate change, this is climate disaster and science tells us that the world should be preparing for even worse things to come. Thanks to the mainly western countries contribution to rising CO2 levels heating up the planet droughts will test the very ability of our species to survive, something we here in Eritrea know all to well.

After the droughts of 2003 and 2004 the government here initiated a major water conservation plan that along with reforestation and soil conservation is a template for other countries to use to prepare for the climate catastrophe being predicted.

What this means is that everywhere possible micro dams, dams and major water reservoirs are being constructed to capture the rains that do fall and use them to irrigate our fields, beginning to break the age old dependence on rain fed agriculture.

Disastrous drought interrupted by record breaking floods is what is being foretold by scientists and the only way to survive these man made disasters is recognizing what needs to be done and then busting ass to see it gets accomplished.

This may explain why Eritrea’s President is away from his office for weeks at a time overseeing the construction of major water reservoirs around the country. And all this hard work being lead from the very top has paid off for when the rains failed in 2013 we here in Eritrea had enough to eat while in much of the rest of the Sahel hundreds of thousands starved to death.

Water conservation is critical but so is reforestation and soil conservation, for without trees to help absorb the water and hold the soil in place and terraces to catch the soil the floods wash away our water reservoirs will fill with silt and undo all our hard work. As a result our school children spend a month every summer planting trees and communities alongside the national service army regularly schedule work days to build stone wall terraces to trap the soil run off.

Colonialism and deforestation go hand in hand everywhere for forests are the natural sanctuary for rebels fighting their colonial masters so whether in Haiti or Eritrea cutting down trees became a weapon against insurgency by our western colonializers.

When the Italians began to colonize Eritrea in the 1880’s over 30% of our country was forested. By the time Eritrea won its independence on the battle field in 1991 less then 2% of our forests remained. This man made environmental holocaust left Eritrea very little in the way of reserves to survive the CO2 driven climate disasters we have since faced and forced our leaders to sacrifice a lot of other development projects that would have raised the standard of living for our people in our need to prepare for worse disasters to come.

Some years back the Eritrean President was ridiculed in the western media for calling for ten years of grain reserves being kept in storage, but today his plan is making all to much sense. Only time will tell if all our hard work will be enough to prevent the worse climate disasters foretold from wreaking havoc on this country but what choice do we have?

Hopefully Eritrea’s efforts will provide a role model for other countries around the world and help prevent untold suffering by our brothers and sisters internationally.
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Thomas C. Mountain has been living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006. He can be reached at thomascmountain at gmail dot com or when he off in the field and away from the internet, which is much of the time, via mobile at 2917175665.

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Surviving Climate Disaster in Africa's Sahel Reviewed by Admin on 9:52 AM Rating: 5

14 comments:

  1. The problem of loosing the 30% forest since 1880 down to only 2 % in 1991 is a great loss and is inevitable to have drought. The replacement of solar system and the availability of the newly made household injera and food processing making material is helpful to help grow the newly planted trees. Otherwise unless untirely awareness and advocacy made to the community not to cut trees, it will hamper the effort. I wonder how nature is biased when y see the forests in most of the western countries and when it rains slowly to the ground. The snow also helps where as our rain wash away our mud. Our living is heavily depended on farming so water conservation and building dums is smart and commendable.

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  2. And thats why Eritrea, doing this.....https://youtu.be/2CvRy97TJVE

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  3. Thanks Mr. T. Mountain and Madote Eritrea for the actual theme and for your witness about the soil and water conservation in Eritrea,

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  4. You do realize that the project you are linking to has been suspended for many years? At it's peak the project employed around 800 people and around one tonne of shrimp was exported weekly. Like many cases that started out promising (remember the Free Trade Zones in Massawa and Asmara, Eritrean Airlines etc.) this project has been suspended since around 2003 and hasn't started back ever since. There is another project that is called the Manzanar project that you'll probably never heard of. I suggest you look into that, since that project is still up and running and is being led by the great Dr. Gordon Sato. Here's a little homework for you:

    https://www[DOT]youtube[DOT]com/watch?v=W9JVVMd27ic

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  5. You do realize that the project you are linking to has been suspended for many years? At it's peak the project employed around 800 people and around one tonne of shrimp was exported weekly. Like many cases that started out promising (remember the Free Trade Zones in Massawa and Asmara, Eritrean Airlines etc.) this project has been suspended since around 2003 and hasn't started back ever since. There is another project that is called the Manzanar project that you'll probably never heard of. I suggest you look into that, since that project is still up and running and is being led by the great Dr. Gordon Sato. Here's a little homework for you:



    https://www[DOT]youtube[DOT]com/watch?v=W9JVVMd27ic

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  6. There is no date of record and I can't argue with y Ermias. I also didn't try to see the website y mentioned above. Thanks to have the issue on the forum for discussion and exchange views.


    First I am surprised y give Alec an assignment where the issue concerns all of us. If there is a need of correction it is good to learn from one another to build our future. Humiliation, scapegoating or else condemning and challenging would not help.



    Personally, I was impressed with the idea because it reminds me the Ethiopians who live around the Awash river and how they were suffering of shortage of water and how the poverty level was high. There might be change now. I just brought it to connect things. In our case lot of plans were designed and most were implemented and many were on the way. The interruption of the project might have different reasons beyond our control. Let us leave the politics to the politician and try to analyze and see how the living standard of the people would have brought a big change if the war was not broken. The employment opportunity and the accomodation of 800 people had a big impact. I believe the plan and implementation started prior to 1998. As we all know from 1998 till 2003 situation in our country was worst. We can say the displacement of people and the young were on standby etc etc. It is not that I wanted an execuse but with my meagre knowledge I only want to mention the economic terms here in regards to market competition. With our unstable condition we might not be able to penetrate the world market and sale our products. The other issue is no one wants Eritrea to shine and outsmart the countries who antagonize us because they don't like self-reliance and believe is not a better way of marketing. If it is business it should follow how rich people become rich and the poor remain poor. This is the world! Eritreans fought for the 'hafashe' and believe hafashe should benefit. Education, health, conserving water were given priorities. Using sea water might be expensive. Who knows?



    The volunteer cyclists have started a journey today to make the world that we are a nation denied justice. Let us cross our fingers for the betterment of us!

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  7. 1st of all i know this is old, its the Idea that i want to share, it doesn't matter if its old or if its running in another project. Its not a competition geeeeez.......

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  8. That is all you got to say. Do not forget, Eritrea is a 23 years old country that started from below zero. Take a look what Eritrea has done in short 23 years. But then again, how could idiots like you know what it takes and how long it takes to plan and implements project like those of Eritrea. No you do not know and you do not have the brain to know.

    To the agony and desmay like you, here is Eritrea doing it and they are doing with such speed, sophistication and knowledge. Eat your heart out, Eritrea in only to teach them how to build a nation brick by brick.

    To give you the nightmares and the headaches, please log on to the link below to see what the Eritreans are doing. I challenge you to log on to the link below and what you will see is only the tip of iceberg.

    http://www.madote.com/search/label/Development

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  9. Yes Mr. Thomas, please tell them the truth. Yes you are there and you have seen it with your own eyes to know what the Eritreans are doing to build their nation brick by brick.

    As you put it, "This may explain why Eritrea’s President is away from his office for weeks at a time overseeing the construction of major water reservoirs around the country. And all this hard work being lead from the very top has paid off for when the rains failed in 2013 we here in Eritrea had enough to eat while in much of the rest of the Sahel hundreds of thousands starved to death".


    Within 23 short years, here is Eritrea changing to "green", here the Eritreans producing crops and vegetables three times a year, hear Eritrean villages supplied with drinking water, and here are the Eritrean rivers and stream dammed to hold the water for future use. That is changing a desert into green, the Eritrean way.

    Mr. Mountain, you are a man of honor and thanks for telling them the truth. Thanks million for telling them the truth. And the ever grateful Eritreans shall never forget Thomas Mountain. Do not forget; to us, you are one of us.

    (PS, your name is "Mountain"? Ask your friends to translate it to English. No wonder our forefather say, "SHIM YIMER'H TIWAF YEB'R'H"

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  10. If they have the brains to understand it; please tell them in the USA to replace a 1920 bridge by three span (100'-100-100') BRIDGE takes 4 years of planning, design and construction. To tell them and to teach them about project planning, design, and implementation is something beyond their mental capacity to grasp or understand.

    You could try to teach them but do not expect a miracle from the idiots of EDAGA ENUDAT

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  11. I didn't say it's old. What does age have to do with the viability of a project? I said it was suspended. It is no longer operating, do you understand Alec? The Manzanar project is many years old too, but still running and successful.

    I had the honor of meeting the great Dr. Sato in Eritrea once. He is a wise and dedicated man, who works passionately to improve the lives of Eritreans (especially those living on the Red Sea coast). The Seawater Farms project was promising, but unfortunately is halted. I don't know if you ever visited Eritrea, but if you were to go one day make sure you visit that location. Go to Gurgusum beach (North Massawa) and north of that you will find the Seawater Farms and the circular shrimp ponds. See for yourself what is left of that promising project. Thank goodness the Manzanar Project is still up and running. And it is one of the few projects in Africa where you can find true greening of a coastline. More than one million trees have been planted (most around the Hirgigo area south of Massawa). Next time you are in Eritrea, make sure you visit Hirgigo and talk to the villagers there. They will gladly tell you how much this project has improved their lives. It's small scale development that has tremendous impact.

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  12. hahaha....lol...thats funny...

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  13. Ya, i saw it on Eri tv, when i was in 7th grade Bana school, but i never visted the site. i was impress with Dr. Sato vision since then. it was incredible wen i saw it 1st time on tv.

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  14. Thanks Ermias. That is it! Y came with a better explanation. I remember where the shirmp harvest was but not to this extent.

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