Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA)






Afar region of north-east Ethiopia

The Afar lands are mostly in remote north-east Ethiopia, but also extend into parts of Djibouti and southern Eritrea. The APDA field office is located in the town of Logya, with project work extending through the Afar region in Ethiopian territory. APDA also has an office in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Australian nurse Valerie Browning first went to Ethiopia in 1973. In 1989 she married Ismael Ali Gordo, an Afar leader, and since then has been living with and serving the Afar people. In 1993 she and Ismael joined with other leaders to form the Afar Pastoralist Development Association (ADPA), which continues to be run by and for the Afar people.

APDA was established because Afar leaders felt their needs, particularly around health and education, were not being met by formal Government services that did not take into account the unique geography, climate, culture and lifestyle of the semi-nomadic pastoralist Afar people. Over the years APDA has gradually grown from a core group of volunteers, to first taking on international assistance in 1997, and now operating with hundreds of field workers supported by assistance from international NGOs and agencies.

Today, APDA works on a wide variety of projects to contribute to the development and wellbeing of the Afar people, many of them focusing on vulnerable women and children, including mobile health and vaccination, water provision and harvesting, maternal and child health activities, and education for Afar children.

APDA also supports projects to help people with their livelihoods such as improving animal husbandry, along with protecting and managing the unique Afar environment. In all their projects, APDA works with communities to build relationships and knowledge so that the Afar people can take the lead in their own development. APDA also undertakes relief work in times of crisis such as drought.

Anglican Overseas Aid has been partnering with Valerie Browning and APDA since 1997, initially supporting crisis relief and a variety of disparate programs to help the Afar people.

In 2010 and 2012, we worked in partnership with APDA after a series of failed rains plunged the Horn of Africa into drought, becoming known as the East Africa Food Crisis. The Afar region of Ethiopia was particularly badly affected. With assistance from the Australian Government, which matched each dollar donated by the Australian public, 237 drought-destitute households had their goat herds restocked and APDA educated families on how to care for these animals. Many lives were saved as people regained their livelihoods.

Anglican Overseas Aid has been partnering with the Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA) since 1997. APDA runs a variety of programs to help the Afar people – many of them focusing on vulnerable women and children – including health and vaccination, water provision, maternal and child health, education and more.

From 2011 to 2016 we worked with APDA through The Road Less Travelled project, which focused on improving nutrition and maternal and child health through improved access to community-based health services. This was part of a five-year, Australian Government funded project, which ended in June 2016.

From July 2016 to 2018, we worked with APDA to establish the first ever FM radio station in the region.

From October 2018 we supported APDA through our Strengthening Remote Education project. This project ensured that education remains accessible to and inclusive of children from pastoralist communities during the current period of prolonged humanitarian crisis.

Since 2017, the Afar region has been suffering from water shortages. Drought has pushed the Afar people to crisis point, with farmers having to travel enormous distances to find water for their herds, and families resorting to paying high prices for trucked water just to survive.

To help with a long term solution to this increasingly dire problem, we are supporting a Dam Reconstruction and Building Project. Reconstructing the existing dam and building a new one will ensure that rainfall is captured effectively and is available close-by year-round.

Funding: The Dam Reconstruction and Building project is funded by donations from the Australian public.