Irrigation Brings Food Security to Small Farmers in South Omo

This is the story of Yikoley Derigche, a diligent farmer from the rural village of Alikatakach in South Omo, Ethiopia. Ato Yikoley is 37 years old and the sole breadwinner for his wife and seven children.

He farms a small patch of land in the Dassenech woreda (district) of South Omo yet, despite being a model farmer, he struggled to make a living due to the damaging effects of drought. With virtually no access to irrigation, Yikoley’s livelihood depended on the single crop of sorghum he grew during the rainy season and an occasional crop of vegetables. His yields were small and earned him little or no profits, forcing Ato Yikoley, like many other farmers in similar situations, to take up other livelihoods to try and provide for his growing family.

Vita is part of an EU project looking to bring food security to Yikoley and an improved quality of life to his family. Managed by six NGOs, this expansive project aims to develop and introduce new irrigation systems that will enable small farmers in the southern part of Ethiopia to double their incomes by introduction and produce high-value crops that will completely transform their lives.

Vita field officers worked with Yikoley to help nurture Moringa tree saplings  which are a source of protein-rich food and to introduce canal irrigation kits to his land. The result is that Yikoley has been able to double his income and increase his crop production on land that was previously damaged by drought and water scarcity. He has diversified from just one paddy crop of sorghum to include a variety of vegetables, which he can grow throughout the year. This means both he and his family can, for the first time, rely on a stable income that allows them to enjoy a better quality of life.

Yikoley’s story is the story of many pastoralists we work with. Thanks to the irrigation projects we have provided with the EUTF Cross Boarder Omo Delta Project, other small farmers have seen their harvests and incomes multiply significantly, bringing security, sustainability, and happiness to their families.