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Turning dry land green

The UNV-funded project ‘Involvement of Ethiopian youth in combating desertification’ aims at countering desertification caused by both human activities and by nature. (UNV)The UNV-funded project ‘Involvement of Ethiopian youth in combating desertification’ aims at countering desertification caused by both human activities and by nature. (UNV)On 17 June, Flavia Pansieri (right) visited another UNDP-UNV initiative in cooperation with the Government of Ethiopia, the ‘SchoolNet’ project. Aiming to bridge Ethiopia’s digital divide, the project is providing computer laboratories and information technology training to schools, and has connected 181 schools all over the country to share learning and experiences. Beginning in 2006, the initial planning and set-up phase was managed by UNV volunteers, and 10 UNV volunteers continue to run ‘train-the-trainers’ workshops, supervise and manage the project together with their national counterparts in all the regions. During her visit to the 104-year old Emperor Menelik II School, Ms. Pansieri spoke to the 700 assembled students about the value of community volunteerism and shared anecdotes about her own schooldays. The laboratory at the school has 25 computers for 1,500 students, so “long queues do form”, remarks UNV Programme Officer Coumba Ceesay Marenah. However, the school hopes to use the skills learned to set up and run a community internet cafe to generate additional income. (UNV)On 17 June, Flavia Pansieri (right) visited another UNDP-UNV initiative in cooperation with the Government of Ethiopia, the ‘SchoolNet’ project. Aiming to bridge Ethiopia’s digital divide, the project is providing computer laboratories and information technology training to schools, and has connected 181 schools all over the country to share learning and experiences. Beginning in 2006, the initial planning and set-up phase was managed by UNV volunteers, and 10 UNV volunteers continue to run ‘train-the-trainers’ workshops, supervise and manage the project together with their national counterparts in all the regions. During her visit to the 104-year old Emperor Menelik II School, Ms. Pansieri spoke to the 700 assembled students about the value of community volunteerism and shared anecdotes about her own schooldays. The laboratory at the school has 25 computers for 1,500 students, so “long queues do form”, remarks UNV Programme Officer Coumba Ceesay Marenah. However, the school hopes to use the skills learned to set up and run a community internet cafe to generate additional income. (UNV)UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri (left) met with the State Minister of Finance and Economic Development Ato Ahmed Shide (right) and the National Program Coordinator for Multilateral Cooperation Ato Admassu Nebebe to discuss the national UNV volunteer programme in Ethiopia. She also participated in the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa regional management team meeting on addressing the impact of the current global financial and economic crisis on Africa’s development. 
 (UNV)UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri (left) met with the State Minister of Finance and Economic Development Ato Ahmed Shide (right) and the National Program Coordinator for Multilateral Cooperation Ato Admassu Nebebe to discuss the national UNV volunteer programme in Ethiopia. She also participated in the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa regional management team meeting on addressing the impact of the current global financial and economic crisis on Africa’s development. (UNV)
23 June 2009

Amhara, Ethiopia: To mark the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on 17 June, UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri was the chief guest to observe ‘volunteering for our planet’ first hand.

In a joint commemoration event with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Ethiopian Environment Protection Authority Ms. Pansieri visited the UNV-funded project ‘Involvement of Ethiopian youth in combating desertification’ in Debre-Sina in the Amhara region.

The project, which began as a pilot in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia during 2006 in partnership with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), aims at countering desertification caused by both human activities and by nature. Youth volunteers supervised by UNV volunteers work on land rehabilitation in two target regions, Amhara and Oromia.
 
The UNV Programme Officer in Ethiopia, Coumba Ceesay Marenah explains further: “Youth in the Amhara region have made the project a tremendous success, and it has had a multiplier effect for communities at large. It started on dry land and turned it green.”

“The horticulture component is helping feed people in the region, and the income of the youth group has improved through the sale of horticultural produce and the honey sold from apiculture,” she added.

“Our forefathers toiled the land, our fathers inherited it and nature depleted it,” remarked one volunteer, Aberra Getachew. “We are now restoring it for the next generations.”

The project is also influencing people in neighbouring communities to follow suit and take voluntary action for themselves. “We saw what the neighbouring kebele [village] is doing in the project and we organized ourselves and engaged in the same activities,” said one community member, Fasika Hailu.

“Both the boys and the girls work together and take decisions together,” she continued. “We receive no funding but we want to gain the same as our neighbours.  Our aim after building the enclosures, planting trees and growing horticulture is to open our own beauty shop.”

Ms. Pansieri was accompanied on her visit to the youth volunteer desertification project by: the UNEP Representative to the African Union, Economic Commission for Africa, and Ethiopia, Strike Mkandla; Government Environment Protection Authority Eco Systems Department head Ababu Anage; senior representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the youth volunteers and community members.

UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)