OTHER LOCAL THEMES
culture and customs
justice and crime
introducing the area
quotes about environment
key testimonies featuring environment
A major preoccupation in the testimonies is environmental degradation. The "health" of the land is absolutely crucial to people's wellbeing, and it is striking how often people refer to the land almost as though it is human: "The forest protected the land. For instance if a person is emaciated and you push him, he falls down; it is the same thing with the land. It has now been weakened and does not produce food" (Ethiopia 1). Before the land was redistributed and the population grew, the land apparently yielded good harvests and there were plenty of native trees, supplying wood for fuel and construction. Wild animals - apes, monkeys, giraffes, waterbucks, antelopes, leopards and elephants are all mentioned - were much in evidence, providing a further source of food.
Continuous cultivation has depleted the soil's fertility; deforestation and the removal of soil bunds has exposed the ground to wind and flood water, resulting in severe soil erosion and the formation of gullies. The reduction in livestock numbers is a further factor in the degradation of the land since there is less cattle dung. This provided not only a natural fertilizer, but also a source of fuel that was an alternative to wood.
Many refer to there being adequate rainfall in the past. Although periodic drought has always been a feature of the region, poor rainfall is now a constant concern and the problem is exacerbated by sudden storms and floods: "Now there is no rain. Even when it rains on time and the crop grows, the rain comes again and destroys it" (Ethiopia 1). There is some mention of hailstorms.
quotes about environment
"[The forest] was cut down. You won't find a single agam or kitkita now, even for hanging yourself from."
Negussie, F/45, market trader, Ethiopia 2
"There were a lot of trees and the forests were preventing flooding... [Then] the trees were cut down, the land was overgrazed and the population grew. When the forest was cleared, the soil was washed away by the flood, the productivity of the land decreased."
Haji Zekiy, M/57, Qadi (Muslim religious leader), Ethiopia 9
"[The] cultivation is destroyed by hailstorm and failure of the rains. Also, the flood has washed away the top soil, exposed the sand and rocks, and cut through the land thereby forming gullies. The farmers could have gained some benefits from their livestock, but the latter have nothing to feed on and could not give any yield. One can't even collect sufficient honey because there are no trees for the bees."
Yaregal, M/41, farmer trained in beekeeping, Ethiopia 19