Through this project, Caritas Switzerland is promoting sustainable water usage and crop cultivation systems that are designed to increase agricultural productivity and enable long-term protection of an endangered ecosystem. The switchover to appropriately adopted cultivation methods will bring stability for local markets and strengthen the resilience of small farmers.
The project focuses on stabilizing and protecting the available water resources. It creates incentives for small farmers, private sector organizations and government agencies to adapt to more sustainable water usage for agriculture. Caritas Switzerland is promoting methods to make irrigation systems more efficient. These measures are intended to raise awareness that the livelihood of the local population can be maintained only with sustainably effective systems. These aim at ensuring that consumers of larger quantities of water, such as companies from the local agricultural industry, as well as the processing industry, shift to sustainable water usage techniques.
In order to maintain production potential and soil fertility, water-efficient, agro-ecological measures are supported; for example, planting drought-resistant crop varieties. The farmers are assisted in their task of organizing themselves in cooperatives, which help them to obtain better market conditions. In addition to making more efficient use of the precious water, local farmers can use this same approach to increase their crop yields and better meet their food needs. New techniques for the production, storage and preservation of their products will improve energy efficiency, reducing the pressure on the natural resource wood and thus the ecosystem. Another important aspect of the project is the technical support in the creation and implementation of the respective local development and water usage plan, which Caritas Switzerland provides jointly with various local partners.
In Ethiopia’s Ziway-Shalla basin, awareness-building is being provided to inform local interest groups about the consequences of the present water usage situation. In addition, workshops and training courses are organised, in which small farmers are introduced to water-efficient, agro-ecological and climate-friendly cultivation methods that contribute to higher crop yields and more sustainable use of natural resources. National and international market access shall be improved through certification and rain field cultivation.
At institutional level, modalities for water usage are developed. In cooperation with the local government authorities, plans for water management are then drawn up for the regulation of the water quantities drawn by the respective user groups. Based on this water usage metering data, the various users are then charged fixed tariffs per m3. The income thus derived can be used not only to finance the local authority activities but also to enforce long-term compliance with the developed rules and standards.