Climate change makes itself felt in the form of more frequent and longer drought periods, and flooding due to violent rainfall. This poses great challenges for agricultural production, particularly in dry-land areas. But other areas of the country are also vulnerable and affected by the more unpredictable climate. Farmers lack knowledge of how to adapt agricultural production to more varied climatic circumstances. They also have little access to new and locally adapted seed. Degradation of lands weakens access to water and reduces soil quality. Deforestation is also taking place at an accelerating pace, and the green lungs of Ethiopia are becoming steadily smaller.

In order to increase the capacity of farmers to adapt, the Development Fund gives high priority to education in climate-robust agricultural methods. This involves, for example, various techniques for maintaining the humidity of the soil, avoiding erosion and improving the soil, as well as the cultivation of new and more varied plants on the same plot of land. Access to water is an important part of our work, and we therefore repair old irrigation works, build wells and establish various systems to bring water closer to cultivated areas. We also support work to rebuild degraded lands by means of soil protection systems such as terracing, tree planting and the development of various systems that conserve water resources and make irrigation possible. In this way, dry areas turn into green hills and fertile fields.

Secure and stable access to high-quality seed is important for any farmer. In Ethiopia, the Develop­ment Fund supports the establishment of seed banks, where farmers can store seed, borrow seed in case their previous crop failed, and keep collections of various local and traditional seed varieties. We educate farmers on the maintenance of seed banks, on how seeds are best stored, on quality control of seeds and on responsible management. Farmers participate in identifying the local plant varieties that are found in the vicinity, and testing which of these they themselves want to use on their farm. Through the seed banks, the farmers also gain access to plant varieties from other regions, as well as from the national gene bank.

Forest conservation is important for the climate on both global and local levels. Ethiopia is an important cooperation country for Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, and the Development Fund works with our local partner Ethio Wetlands and Natural Resource Association (EWNRA) to reduce the deforestation of Ethiopia’s second-largest forest area, in the southwest of the country. Through participatory forest management, local communities acquire the right to use and manage forests. We also seek to secure collective ownership of the forest areas. By strengthening local communities’ forest rights we also secure the livelihood of groups that are dependent on the forest. Many gain their livelihood from honey, coffee and spices that grow in the forest. We seek to establish local and participatory REDD+ models (Reduced Deforestation and Forest Degradation), in order to ensure that the rights of forest people are respected, and that their contribution to the preservation of Ethiopia’s forests is acknowledged. 

The Development Fund has designed its own model for climate adaptation. In Ethiopia we use participatory methods in vulnerability analyses and in development of action plans. This model, which we call Climate-Adapted Villages, is used in several local communities and leads to increased consciousness and ownership of measures that strengthen the capacity for adaptation. Read more about CAV in Ethiopia here