Concern's enclosure initiative in south Wollo, Ethiopia

Concern's enclosure initiative in south Wollo, Ethiopia

Concern’s enclosure initiative in South Wollo, Ethiopia, involves leaving some land fallow so that the effects of desertification can be reversed.

Individuals participating in these enclosure schemes can generate an income through harvesting the indigenous grass that now has a chance to grow.

Fatima Muher Nur, 24, is a widow with three children. Her husband died a year ago after an unnamed illness and Fatima has inherited his two plots of land. One of these plots is at the Derka village enclosure and another, 1.5 hectares in size, is in the lowlands.

Fatima Nur, working on her land in South Wollo, Ethiopia. Photo: Caroline Irby

The enclosure at Derka village was created in 2002 and serves around 2,000 people. Each member has his or her own plot within the enclosure. Amongst the plants now growing on the land that has been left fallow are grass and acacia. 

Bad harvests

On her lowland plot, Fatima plants sorghum, but the harvest has depleted in recent years. She attributes this to erratic rainfall and crop pests. She doesn’t produce enough food from this farm to feed her family for the whole year. In a good year the harvest could last for up to 10 months but in bad years it only lasts for 6-8 months. When it runs out she has to sell her livestock to buy food; last year she had to sell two of her five goats.

On Fatima’s plot in the enclosure, she has planted eucalyptus, which she sees as a future investment. Indigenous plants including grass now also grow, and Fatima now uses this grass to feed her animals. Before belonging to the enclosure scheme, Fatima found it hard to get enough food for her animals; now she even has an excess of grass that she sells within the community.

Enclosure ownership

Speaking about her membership of the enclosure, Fatima says: “Because of the grass and trees, an asset for the future, and the environmental protection, it makes me happy to be a member of the enclosure group. I feel confidence in my future”. She also makes a point about the certificate given to each member of the enclosure association: “The certificate has given me ownership. If someone comes and tries to cut some trees I can say, ‘don’t take anything from this plot because it is mine’ and my neighbours can witness to that”.

Later on, Fatima recalls: “At first, people were afraid to join us in the enclosure. Now they have seen with our eyes: we have trees and grass to sell, and they are begging us to be members”.