After flying into Addis Ababa late in the evening, I arrived to a refreshingly cold ‘St. George’ beer and my accommodation which was better than some of the places I’ve lived (treehouse, cow shed, desert island etc.), I was out like a light.
Up early the next morning, I got a crash course in Ethiopian Date & Time settings: So, It’s 2005 here- I’m 7 years younger. Also, there are 13 months in a year and each month is exactly 30 days long, except the 13th, which only lasts 5 days. Finally, the hours in a day are slightly perplexing to say the least: an hour after sunrise its 1 o’clock and so on throughout the day till sundown…
Day 1 saw us head 6 hours north to the Antsokia Valley. Those of you who remember the devastating famine of 1984, will be familiar with the area. Antsokia was one of the worst affected areas and many of the news reports and images of food drops were from here. The drive up was a flickr stream of Ethiopia drive-by snapshots- getting the feel of a place as they whizz past the window. Euculyptus trees, euculyptus scaffolding, eucalyptus timber frames, thatched roofs and beasts of burden- donkeys & camels. My eyes were glued to the window for most of the journey. My first thoughts on what I was seeing was that this was how England used to be some time ago and knowing what it has become, probably still should be.
We eventually arrived in the town of kimbolcha our base for the next few days. Whilst in Antsokia we were due to visit a number of Area Development Programmes (ADP’s) set up and run by World Vision. What has happened here in the past 30 years is quite astounding. Firstly, this is Development on a grand scale- NOT aid and has been played out in 3 distinct phases:
Phase 1: Relief (1984-85)- Food drops, Feeding centres and emergency health care. Around 4m people affected.
Phase 2: Rehabilitation (1986-89)- Infrastructure, Agriculrural development and child sponsorship.
Phase 3: Development (1990- present)- Livability, sustainable incomes and phase out of ADP’s.
Some of the projects we have visited have included irrigation schemes, Fruit farms and Dairy farms. This is not on the vast scale that you would expect in the UK, but smaller cottage industries: smallholders in the real sense and not some H E Bates fantasy realized by a city dweller. The people here have grafted hard with the unfaltering support of World Vision to turn Antsokia from a dust bowl into a fruitful, fertile Oasis.
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