Ethiopia contains Africa’s largest mountain complex, distinguished by a diversity of climatic conditions. Testimonies were collected in the mountainous territory of Meket Woreda in the northern highlands.
Our partner, SOS Sahel Ethiopia, is an integrated rural development NGO working with communities in Wollo. Testimonies were collected in 1997-1998 and cover farming and the decreasing productivity of the land, the environment and deforestation, and population growth. SOS Sahel are currently producing an Amharic language booklet based on the testimonies.
“There were a lot of trees and the forests were preventing flooding.… [Then] the trees were cut down, the land was overgrazed and the population grew. When the forest was cleared, the soil was washed away by the flood, the productivity of the land decreased.”
Haji Zekiy, male, 57 years, Muslim religious leader
“One day I…told the health officer that I had a stomach ache and asked him to give me an injection. He stared at me intently and then burst into laughter. When I asked him why he was laughing at me, he replied that my sickness was hunger and nothing else. He was telling the truth.”
Mekonen, male, 72 years, priest
“The people of Meket are active. They have prestige symbols such as guns and mules, which the owners show off on holidays. At home, though they are now getting poorer, their hospitality, songs, musical instruments and minstrels have a distinct quality of their own. Now the burden of poverty is weighing down on the people. Songs and dances are not reviving the spirit of families at home. Mothers have very little to feed their children and familial ties are loosening.”
Yaregal, male, 41 years, farmer
“When I was a child I have travelled on foot to Kaskes in Delanta. There was no road then. People carried food for themselves and for their animals and travelled for a week or a month through the forest and the desert in those days. Some even died on the road. Now that the Chinese built this road for us, anybody, whether rich or poor, can travel by car to a distant place and come back the next day after doing his business… Because there is a road, they brought barley from Addis Ababa and dagussa from Gojam by vehicles here and saved our lives when the land refused to produce food.”
Ayichesh, female, 28 years, head of household-+