Christian Aid Christmas appeal

Every day, he digs in a dry riverbed to find water for his cattle.

Father–of–five Mekonnen Sofar (38) lives in the village of Mukecha Kebele in Ethiopia’s South Omo region. Every day, he digs in a dry riverbed to find water for his cattle.

Mekonnen’s story

Mekonnen Sofar kneels in the sand, determinedly digging with his hands into the dirt of the dry riverbed, in search of water. He is thirsty and desperate with the dry hole more than a metre deep. Mekonnen knows that if he does not strike water today, some of his livestock may die.

The effects of climate change are real in the village where Mekonnen lives with his wife and five sons. The rains have stopped, drought has dried the rivers, and crops no longer produce a harvest. Even the honey bees have disappeared. The conditions have become unbearable.

Mekonnen worries that his way of life as a pastoralist herdsman will not last much longer as the climate crisis worsens. Many of his livestock have already died, and hunger has forced him to sell off some of his remaining animals to feed his family. Yet, in the face of prolonged drought he persists.

He recalls stories of friends and fellow herdsmen who have dug so deep to find water that they are killed by collapsing sand.

“A number of people have died because when they excavate, they dig deep with sand above their head and the sand collapses on top of them. Even small children. We pray for rain but when there’s no rain, we have to dig. Some people have shovels but most don’t – we use our hands. The changing climate has made it too difficult to live around here. My farm and my animals are no longer enough.”

Mekonnen desperately needs a reliable water source to keep his animals alive and maintain his livelihood. Each day that passes is another day of digging and another day of desperation.

This Christmas, will you stand with families like Mekonnen’s, living on the frontline of the climate crisis?
• €28 will plant elephant grass to feed livestock.
• €59 will teach 12 farmers how to grow drought–tolerant crops.
• €117 will buy three goats to give poor families an income. (Goats tolerate drought well.)
• €555 will help build a community pond from which Mekonnen can draw water for his animals and crops.

You can donate online at www.caid.ie/ChristmasAppeal or by telephone on 028 9064 8133 (Belfast) or 01 496 7040 (Dublin).

Pregnant mum-of-ten Kawite Koyrita (45) lives in Fasha Kebele in the Konso region of Ethiopia. Despite the effects of climate change, Kawite is thriving. The community pond provides water for her animals and crops.

Kawite’s story

Kawite Koyrita rises with the sun to gather water for her animals from the community pond. In the morning light both her pregnant belly and warm smile glow in expectation. Hope has returned to her community like a spring in the desert.

Today Kawite will make breakfast for her family, send her youngest children to school, and tend to her business of trading goats and sheep. After she completes her chores she’ll meet with her community savings group to dream of ideas to empower other women in her village to thrive like she is.

Kawite’s smile has not always shone so brightly. For the past ten years Kawite’s family struggled to make ends meet as the effects of the climate crisis ravaged her village with prolonged drought and hardship.

“When I was young, the wells were full, and going to collect water didn’t take much time,” she explained. “When the climate changed and the rains stopped, the water disappeared.”

Kawite and her daughters travelled up to five hours every day to fetch water, and her children often missed school or went hungry. As the burden of prolonged drought became unbearable, Christian Aid and our local partner worked alongside the community to build a pond from which they draw water for their animals and crops.

Kawite and her community were provided with drought resistant seeds to boost the harvest, elephant grass to feed the livestock, and goats and sheep to help the women build livelihoods.

The women in the village have also established a savings group which provides loans to women so they can buy essentials, empowering their community from within. The community pond saves Kawite hours of precious time that she can spend at home with her family, and the other support from Christian Aid’s partner has enabled her to put food on the table and build a better future for her community, her ten children, and her baby on the way.

“The pond is not only for me. It has changed the life of this village.”