The effects of overpopulation and poverty in the country have, in the same time period, taken their toll in the form of major deforestation across Ethiopia. In fact, nearly all Ethiopians still cook with wood and have been consuming the trees at an alarming rate. Erosion, flooding, and drought have had additional consequences on the environment, which in turn increase degradation to the ecosystem and further contribute to the risk of famine. In other words, the trees have been vanishing from the hills around the Awassa Children’s Center and Ethiopia, so the Children’s Center took action by planting hundreds of trees, digging our own clean well and installing solar panels on our buildings. The Children’s Center also hosted an environmental atelier in Awassa in conjunction with the University of Vermont.
The product of the atelier was the “Green Awassa Project”, a collaborative effort between the Children’s Center, the Gund Institute at the University of Vermont, and the City of Awassa. The vision is to create an ecologically sustainable and economically viable community in Awassa, Ethiopia. UVM graduate students and faculty members met with American and African ecologists in an ecological focus group to discuss solutions to deforestation in the Lake Awassa basin as part of the Green Awassa Project. On the hillside of Mount Tabor, just steps from the Children’s Center, we have planted hundreds of eucalyptus and acacia trees, donated by our German partners, to help prevent soil erosion on nearly 50,000 square feet of land above Lake Awassa. We hope that our efforts will produce a truly “green Awassa” which will help lay the groundwork for a whole campaign of popular education on environmental issues throughout Ethiopia.