North Yorkshire woman’s new project helping farming families in Ethiopia


imgID7016480June 12, 2014 – A Woman from North Yorkshire has set up a new project to help farming families in Ethiopia cope with drought.

Sarah Jackson, 32, has formed Verdant Ethiopa, to work with communities in the country’s Afar and Somali regions, helping them to improve grasslands and to reverse the deterioration of land quality.

She hopes to raise $20,000 (around £12,000) to help local farmers develop new ways of maintaining the soil and vegetation, to make the land more resilient against drought, and capable of sustaining larger herds of cattle.

In turn, that would enable families to generate enough money to sustain themselves, freeing themselves of the need for charity in future.

Miss Jackson, who is from Easingwold and attended Bootham School in York, said: “Ethiopia’s grasslands are degrading fast. Where 40 years ago there was shoulder high grass, today there is just bare ground. Pastoralists struggle to find sufficient grass for their animals, and in drought years like this year when the short rains have failed, they have to walk up to eight hours to find grass.”

She said the continuing degradation of the grasslands made life harder for livestock, impacted on wildlife, increased the impact of drought and famine on local people and contributed to climate change.

But she added: “This doesn’t have to be the case. Good management of the land and grazing can lead to healthy grasslands in even arid areas like the Ethiopian lowlands.”

Miss Jackson has travelled widely, living in France, South Africa, Austria, China and Ethiopia, and is now working with the Alan Savory Institute, which teaches people about the relationship between large herds of wild herbivores and the grasslands.

Through a social enterprise model, Verdant Ethiopia plans to work with communities, empowering them to improve their grasslands and improve food security.

A fundraising drive is underway, with a view to launching some pilot projects,