Do’oma, Gamo

Do’oma in 2011

Do’oma is a lowland mostly flat kebele with 450 households in two villages originally settled in the 1980s. Do’oma village lies between Wacha the wereda town and Womalo; in 2011 Wacha was connected to Morka (12 kms) by an allweather road and two bridges allowing external access during the rains to Wolayita Sodo (95 kms) and Arba Minch, the zone capital, (223 kms). Over 70% of residents are Gamo or Gofa; the rest from three ethnic groups. 85% are Protestants; the remainder Orthodox Christian. Irrigated land is insufficient and pressure on once-abundant grazing land developed after an investor leased 20% of kebele land from 1997 to 2005 and the Maze National Park took land on establishment in 2005. The investor’s land which was never officially returned to the kebele was re-auctioned to SNNP and Tigray government officials in 2011.

Rains are sparse and erratic; the community would not survive without river-fed irrigation. 70% have some irrigated land though 35% never get enough water and others are affected in severe droughts. While most irrigated land is owned by first-settler families, buying, renting and share-cropping are common. River-flooding frequently damages crops. One-third of households have received cash PSNP aid since 2005 with Public Works beneficiaries eligible for cattle credit; cattle and fertiliser debt repayments, taxes and other contributions are deducted and debt is not a big problem. Emergency food aid is very inadequate with drought-related deaths in 2008 and 2011. Cattle die annually from trypanosomiasis; deaths increase dramatically during severe droughts.

Traditional subsistence crops include maize, tef and sweet potatoes; bananas, sugarcane and fruit were sold mostly for petty cash. Increased production following improved seeds and fertiliser, rising food prices and improving roads have led to growing export of maize, tef and bananas to big cities. Cattle fattening has started though there are no improved breeds. Since 2005 Amhara in-migrants have introduced new high-value crops on irrigated and rainfed land and more efficient crop and livestock farming techniques. Increased productivity of traditional crops is attributed to the extension programme, though forced general taking of fertiliser and inappropriate new technologies and advice were criticised. There are daily labour opportunities for males and females on irrigated land and seasonal migration for agricultural work to Abaya, Jimma and Weyto.

Increased farm production has increased trading opportunities in external markets, between markets in the wereda, and from the kebele to Wacha market. The growth of Wacha town has generated opportunities in shops, restaurants and other services, skilled work, and daily labour. OMO credit with no strings is available for landholding households. A proportion of young men and women migrate to towns for work and/or education and settle there.

Malaria kills people every year. Many resist spraying and doubt the efficacy of bednets; the HEWs have problems mobilising work to clear stagnant water. The supply of free pills in the kebele is unreliable and pills everywhere run out during epidemics. There is education up to Grade 5 in the kebele and Grade 10 in Wacha and plans for a preparatory wing. There is new interest by parents and adults in (lifelong) education up to Masters’ level. Poor households cannot afford to use the Health Centre, private clinics, hospitals, and preparatory schools. Those who pass Grade 10 seek government-funded TVET courses. The wealth gap between rich (14 very rich) and poor (25% of households) is accelerating. Parental control of choices related to education, work and marriage has reduced; children en route to adulthood follow different combinatory trajectories.

Government infrastructure, credit, education, health and some farming interventions are appreciated; big gaps include irrigation development and seeds and livestock suitable for the local climate. The new kebele structure is not implemented and support for party jobs and meetings is unenthusiastic. The influence of elders has increased. Government does little for women, youth and poor people.

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Do’oma in 1995

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Do’oma in late 2011

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