Back in 1999, Suleiman, a pastoralist from the Gewane district of the Afar region of northern Ethiopia was herding 24 cattle and 60 goats. But successive droughts have decimated his cattle herd. Only limited pastureland is now available and the remnants of his herd are too weak to migrate to distant grazing areas. By mid 2003, Suleiman was desperately struggling to keep the last of his breeding cattle alive.
Animal health technicians from the organisation ‘Farm Africa’ supported by ECHO, vaccinated and treated his cattle and goats early this year. However, with grazing areas becoming rarer in the district, he knew he would lose more of his cattle, and that this would further deplete his assets and livelihood. The future looked uncertain for his family of six. The animal health technicians advised him to bring some of the emaciated cattle to the slaughtering unit of the de-stocking programme. He received an incentive for this, and was strongly advised to reinvest this money in buying goats, which are better adapted to resist the harsh conditions. Suleiman hopes he will be able to keep the rest of his breeding cattle alive and rebuild his herd over the next four to five years. Farm Africa has supported such initiatives by organising the distribution of fodder and concentrated food pellets for selected breeding cattle. In the picture, Suleiman is feeding his animals with some pellets containing basic nutrients. This food will help his cattle survive until the rejuvenation of local pastureland, when the next long-awaited short rains come.