Dr Lindsay Easson, an agricultural research scientist from Lisburn, has just returned from Ethiopia where he saw the work the Christian charity ‘Send a Cow’ is doing.
Dr Easson, who worked at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Hillsborough, for 35 years, witnessed the charity turn round the lives of farmers in remote communities.
When the rains fail in the wet season, as they have done this year, crop yields are low and many families suffer hunger and malnutrition during the months of the dry season.
This year the Ethiopian government have estimated that as many as 8 million out of Ethiopia’s 90 million population will need food aid.
Over recent years the international development charity Send a Cow has helped 1000’s of farmers and their families in Ethiopia to grow nutritious crops of organic vegetables all the year round, including the dry season, providing more than enough to feed their family and surplus to sell in the market.
Working with a team of 80 local trained staff and volunteers Send a Cow identifies the poorest communities and farmers to help.
Self-help groups of about 20 farmers, both men and women, are trained for several months in how to improve soil fertility, make compost, build vegetable gardens around their huts and conserve water for irrigation.
After training the farmers staff work for about 3 years with the groups, providing them with seeds of improved varieties, hand tools and also locally sourced livestock such as goats and chickens.
Regarding climate change, Gwyneth said: “It was very challenging when sitting in a mud hut in one of the remotest communities we visited to hear farmers talk about how climate change is making life more difficult for them and then asking us, ‘how does climate change affect you?’”
After seeing the work of Send a Cow Lindsay said: “There is no doubt that the approach taken by Send a Cow in training community groups is not just raising communities out of poverty, but it is genuinely giving them hope for the future when they see how their lives have turned round in only a few years.”
Send a Cow has shown that for every one family they help, five other families around them also see the difference and start to copy what they are doing.
Having seen the vital work that Send a Cow is carrying out in several regions of Ethiopia, and also in six other East African countries, Dr Easson, who was recently appointed as one of three Ambassadors for Send a Cow in Northern Ireland, is determined to spread the word about its work and encourage greater support for it.
Currently Send a Cow is receiving government UK Aid match funding so that the value of all donations up to December 31st will be doubled.
To learn more of the work of ‘Send a Cow’ visit their website at www.sendacow.org. Dr Easson can be contacted at Lindsay.firstname.lastname@example.org or 07516297518 and is available to talk to groups about the work of Send a Cow.