17 November 2021, Borena Zone
Borena zone is one of the arid areas located in the southern part of Oromia region. It is well known for its livestock resource, which is the major livelihoods option in the area. As most of the Borena people are pastoralist and seminomadic, when rain fails life would become difficult for them and their livestock. During such seasons, they usually travel long distance in search of food and water for themselves and their cattle. Borena zone is currently dealing with severe drought as the seasonal rain that was expected to rain over the last few months has failed. As a result, thousands of livestock have died due to lack of water and feed, among other catastrophes of the drought. One of the major factors aggravating such incidents is the deforestation occurring in many areas at an alarming rate.
This specific phenomenon, therefore, should be taken as direct indication of how climate change is getting harsh and putting its adverse impact on the environment, the lives of the people and livestock. It is a warning signal, as well, that utmost efforts must be exerted to restore natural resources, especially forests. The Oromia Forested Landscape Program (OFLP)[i] is, hence, convinced that one of the best ways to curb such catastrophe in the area is recovering degraded areas through integrated community-based forest management and forest investment activities. To this effect, for the past few years, the program is supporting community-based afforestation/reforestation activities in deforestation hotspot areas of Oromia region, along with other areas of its intervention which are supposed to contribute to the national effort toward mitigating climate change.
[i] The Oromia Forested Landscape Program is Oromia National Regional State’s programmatic umbrella and coordination platform for multi-sector, multi-partner intervention on all forested landscapes in Oromia. The Program is hence strives to insure sustainable and low carbon development through promoting community-based forest management/investment and enhancing carbon stock across Oromia.
Borena zone, has been identified as one of the deforestation hotspot areas selected for OFLP’s strategic intervention. Among other opportunities and relevant resources for such development programs, Borena has got vast communal land which could be used for afforestation/reforestation activities. Currently, there are 14 OFLP supported Afforestation/Reforestation sites being implemented in six woredas of the zone.
Arero, is one of the woredas selected to be OFLP’s Afforestation/Reforestation intervention corridor in the zone. There are two similar sites in the wereda, one of which is Ola Diribo. This site covers an area of 72 hectares and located in Meta Gefersa kebele, 5 kM away from the capital of the woreda, Meta Gefersa town. People in the area have demarcated 72 hectares of degraded land in their locality for the A/R activities with the support from OFLP. Forty hectares of the demarcated land has already been covered with different types of trees seedlings that the whole area is promisingly recovering and changing into a forest patch in almost three years of time. The community is nurturing the seedlings since the date they planted them, and now more than 69 percent of the seedlings have grown vigorously surviving the recent drought that occurred in the zone. Ato Bulo Godana, 27, is resident of Melka Gefersa kebele and a father of five. He works as a guard of Ola Diribo Afforestation/Reforestation site. Ato Bulo said He was hired three years ago and has been watching over the site ever since. He is so happy to work as a guard and protect the site with his fellow community members who transformed the arid area of Arero into a forest patch.
“Before I started this job, I had been working as daily laborer to support my family. I am now getting paid 1,200 ETB monthly. I regularly go over the boundary of the site and watch over to make it free from any human and animal interference. Also, if the fence is broken, I will fix it immediately.” said Ato Bulo while explaining his role as the site guard.
In addition to its contribution to the microclimate, the site is providing the community alternative source of feed for their cattle, hope to overcome the current drought and experience to expand the AR efforts in more areas of the woreda. The feed grass collection is conducted based on a well-established norm/tradition among the Borena people. The Borena people have a long-existed tradition that help them take logical turns in utilizing available resources such as grass and water during such dry and challenging seasons. According to this norm, the community members with more number of cattle would be given priority. The area reforested by OFLP’s support has, hence, added viable opportunity for the community to get access to feed for their cattle and to go through the impact of climate change that affected the area and put the lives of their livestock at risk.
According to the community and Ato Bulo, three years ago, the Ola Diribo A/R site was a bare communal land. Now, it is becoming a forest land and the weather is much more convenient as compared to the neighboring areas that are still bare. “I would like to advise other people to protect forest and not to cut trees as life is so difficult without them. “ said Ato Bulo while summarizing his views as a member of the Borena community and part of the Ola Diribo AR group.
The Oromia Forested Landscape Program is Oromia National Regional State’s programmatic umbrella and coordination platform for multi-sector, multi-partner intervention on all forested landscapes in Oromia. The Program is hence strives to insure sustainable and low carbon development through promoting community-based forest management/investment and enhancing carbon stock across Oromia.