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A village in the sky, living on the edge

Waldiya, Amhara Region

3,400 metres is a long way up, and that’s where the village of Tesfar Georgis is located, on a high plateau far above the plains of Gubalafto district, Ethiopia. You need to be tough to farm in this beautiful, but unforgiving, highland environment. But being tough doesn’t protect you from drought and the failure of the early rains for the past three years has left them extremely vulnerable.

Worku, from Save the Children, and myself spent a morning with the people from the village and were both impressed by their determination and humour in the face of adversity, but also concerned by how close to the edge they are living.

Their livestock holdings (horses, cattle, sheep, donkeys) have decreased to worrying levels, and they face a hard year ahead with crop failure now a reality. Farmer Emenzmenu Dsaesi showed us his barley crop, the seed having failed to set saying,We are only producing fodder this year.” He is not alone in this view, and the communities here will need increased support from Save the Children.

The school was closed yesterday. The 300 children who normally attend were looking after livestock and carrying water while adults worked on terracing the hills. The school principal has arranged that they will make up for the day lost on Saturday, but expressed concern that, as the drought tightened its grip, attendance at the school will drop.

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