An Ethiopian Amazon

Gebremichael Gidey Berhe or ‘Abo Hawi – the father of fire’ wants to turn Abreha we Atsbeha into the Amazon rainforest. Given that Abreha Atsbeha is in the drought-prone highlands of Northern Ethiopia, where, not too long it was considered too dry to live, this is an ambitious goal. But he isn’t called Abo Hawi for nothing! The highly energetic and motivated village leader has worked alongside the villagers to construct bench terraces high up on the mountain slopes on which they planted crops, trees and grass to stabilise the soil, they dug percolation trenches and wells, and agreed to restrict grazing to certain areas. As a result, they were able to control the water flow, have ear-round access to water and dramatically change the landscape of this historical village in a time where climate change is wreaking havoc across the continent. Collaboration with local researchers at Mekelle University helped to show these achievements to the rest of the world. Visitors now come from all over the country and the world to see what has been accomplished in Abreha Atsbeha. Abo Hawi travels around the world to speak about his experiences, and he recently received the prestigious Equator Prize on behalf of the villagers.

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