This project will change potter community’s life: Dr Teshome

The Grand Research Project - ‘Reducing Soil Erosion and Improving the Livelihood of Potter Community in Domba Watershed’ by Dr Teshome Yirgu with his co-researchers is more than a research for while examining the livelihood options of potter community; it observed that this marginalized community is the victim of tradition that keeps them in perpetual poverty and these social pariahs as termed are left to fend for them with no access to land, job and social amenities; hence, their struggle for livelihood goes on.
In order to do justice to these socially deprived community, this project under its general objective of improving their livelihood through sustainable land management practices is carefully examining potential causes and subsequent reasons that make things worse for their survival, explained, Dr Teshome. 

The key findings obtained through baseline survey state that 29.2% of land of the area is under high risk of erosion and annually it disproportionately wipes out soil at the rate of 30.6 tons per hectare which badly affect soil fertility in the watershed; the traditionally made pots don’t fetch desired price in the market because of which they continue to struggle and lead an impoverished life.

Consequently, with no alternate livelihood options left, every generation go into farming oblivious of the need to pay attention at conservation practices that further deteriorates land use and land cover scenario inflicting social, environmental and economic implications on their life. Hence having assessed the ground reality, in the subsequent phase, apt soil and water management measures will be applied to set things right, he added.

The project cycle (2019-22) is categorized into three phases and in its first year of baseline survey that incurred ETB 149,000, the researchers focusing at specific objectives, have examined long-term land cover dynamics & erosion-prone areas; assessed livelihood constraints, undertook watershed management on micro erosion-prone watershed and in the later stage will provide business-oriented trainings and shops will also be constructed to store unsold craft products. Of four, 1 specific objectives of the project were investigated by one of the Master students as part of his thesis.

The 2nd phase will focus on alternate livelihood options for this socially segregated community residing on the outskirt of village totally disconnected from the social mainstream. They aren’t allowed to collect raw materials such as clay, with no governmental assistance around, poor price for wares and lack of storing space force them to discard unsold pots that further compound their hardship. Therefore, business-oriented training from Addis Ababa-based experts will empower them to reinvent their business and life, he quipped.

Since scale of our intervention is limited, we have selected North-Eastern part of this watershed to undertake soil and watershed measure by planting seedlings, employing daily laborers, contacting district offices so that when project is phased out, whatever we could achieve will get transferred to District Agriculture Offices and soil and water conservation measures continue thus benefiting this community in the longer run.

Similarly, these seedlings later will be planted in the selected micro watershed to assess the actual impact of our intervention that will determine our strategy to make key recommendations for the policy makers of this catchment area to tackle soil erosion, he quipped.

Moreover, the important takeaway point of this social endeavor may break in the so-called impenetrable social barricade that unwittingly stonewalls the inclusion of these ‘outcasts’ into the mainstream of society that will possibly facilitate the improvement in their life.

(Corporate Communication Directorate)