In one of the harshest places to live on Earth, the nomadic people who call the Afar home depend on rain and the dams that it fills for survival.
At the Bargaale dam in the Afar region of northern Ethiopia, a miracle used to occur every day. Literally thousands of animals would appear, seemingly out of nowhere, with their Afar shepherds, and come and drink. It was a beautiful reminder of the image in Isaiah 65 of “the wolf and the lamb feeding together”.
Today however, the Bargaale dam is dry. Four regular rainy seasons have been reduced to two, and even then, they are unpredictable. The water sources are desperately depleted in the hottest region on the planet.
Valerie Browning, from our partner, the Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA), speaks passionately of the plight of the Afar people. With years of silting taking its toll, she says it is crucial to dig out the dam now so they can collect the next rains.
“The community is very, very desperate to do this. It means everything to them – it means their life, literally. If their herds have to go many kilometres to find water first, walking huge distances, the milk is not near the house, the animals are in danger, they have to live away, the family is divided. The children, women and elderly are left to suffer. It’s really an awful situation and that’s what they are up against right now,” Valerie explains.
We are currently working on a long-term solution to this increasingly dire problem. We are supporting the Dam Reconstruction and Building Project which will involve reconstructing the existing dam to ensure that rainfall is captured effectively and is available for almost the whole year. Increased water storages will allow the animals to stay alive and the Afar people to use the water for crop production. Feeding the animals in the dry season means having enough milk to survive. It would also mean growing crops such as onions that sell well on the market.
You can support the Afar people by donating to our work to build the dam and restore the ancient vision of Isaiah.
To support this project, please select ‘Ethiopia – APDA & Valerie Browning’ from the drop-down menu on the donate page.