New Afentera dam to improve access to water for irrigation and livestock

Nov 3, 2015

Livestock drinking at the Afentra micro dam in Zoba Gash Barka. Photo: © UNDP Eritrea/Mwaniki

The new Afentera micro dam has heightened hope for the residents of Afentera village in Molki sub-region, Gash Barka region/zoba. In full capacity the dam will hold 160,000 cubic metres of water. It has a catchment area of 2.5 kilometres squared, is 10.5 metres deep and 160 metres wide. Over the years, the residents have had to travel six kilometres to find water for their livestock. Livestock drinking troughs have been constructed at the dam site. The area is arid and subsistence farmers grow drought resistant crops like pearl millet and sorghum since they depend on rain fed agriculture. With the new dam, the residents can use the water for irrigation to grow vegetables such as spinach, tomatoes and cabbages. About 273 households of about 1365 people will benefit from the construction of the micro-dam.

Tesfamariam Tekle (43), Russom Ghebre (40), Tewolde Araia (76) are some of the stakeholders who were involved in the project during the construction phase. The community participated in the construction process; they carried out tasks such as ferrying stones for constructing the dam wall, treatment and conservation of the catchment areas. They build check dams and terraces. The project also provided employment opportunities for the community. According to Engineer Samson Yemane - Agricultural infrastructure head in Zoba Gash Barka, majority of the community members who worked at the project site during the construction were women.

One of the beneficiaries of Afentra micro dam, Tesfamariam Tekle said “We didn’t have good rains this year, but we know that there is potential to improve the quality of our lives in future. We are grateful to UNDP and Zoba Gash Barka for building this dam”. The Zoba administration also plans to start small scale irrigation for female headed households and also provide clean water for household use. It is expected that the dam will boost the underground water table, providing potential to sink a downstream well for human consumption.

So far UNDP has supported construction of 4 micro dams in Gash Barka through the food security and sustainable livelihoods/water supply project. Through the project, UNDP supports Government’s priority to ensure that all Eritreans have sufficient food at affordable prices and enhanced livelihood opportunities. Since Eritrea is situated in the arid and semi-arid region of the Sahel of Africa, it is vulnerable to adverse effects of variability in rainfall patterns. Consequently, it could undermine the progress of attaining sustainable development, poverty reduction, food security and improved livelihoods.

Through the Strategic Partnership Cooperation Framework (SPCF) between the UN and the Government of Eritrea, UNDP focuses on supporting Government interventions such as building long term resilience and economic empowerment of local communities. Specific areas of intervention include; support to boost agricultural production, creating employment and income generating opportunities specially targeting women and youth.

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