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Koraro, Ethiopia
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Koraro, Ethiopia

Koraro Cluster: 11 Millennium Villages | 55,000 residents

The Millennium Village cluster in Koraro is located in the Hawzen district in northern Ethiopia, an area surrounded by jagged escarpments and dusty arid land. The Koraro cluster is located is one of the poorest regions in all of Ethiopia, owing to a confluence of geographic, political, economic, and environmental factors. The 11 villages span an area of several hundred square kilometers, stitched together by extremely poor or non-existent roads, which make traveling between the Villages and local commercial centers, such as Hawzien and Mekelle, very difficult. Koraro is one of the most remote and isolated sites, and also suffers from very poor infrastructure and severe drought. The region is semiarid with a short rainy season that lasts from the end of June to the beginning of September. Koraro is located about 16 km from a dry weather road, and about 54 km from the main road. With such long distances and no communications technologies, Koraro is effectively cut off from the rest of the world.

Village Characteristics by Sector

Koraro is evenly split into two major agricultural zones, which differ by soil type. Villagers grow a variety of crops such as millet, beans, sesame, maize, sorghum, barley, flax and teff (a type of grain). The soil is severely degraded from erosion, and there is no topsoil in most areas. Raising livestock such as cattle, sheep, and goats is an important component of agriculture life. Average yields prior to program implantation were as follows: 800 kg/ha barley, 1,200 kg/ha maize, 700 kg/ha millet, 1,000 kg/ha sorghum, 600 kg/ha teff.

The village primary school in the research village is in poor condition and does not have access to water. It also lacks space for the oldest students (7th grade), so class is held under a tree. Students are mostly unable to progress beyond 7th grade because the nearest school with an 8th grade is a 3-4 hour walk from the village.

Major health problems in Koraro include acute respiratory diseases, malaria, high maternal mortality rates and diarrhea. A village clinic, approximately 5 km away, is staffed by a nurse, two junior nurses, and four community health workers. However, the clinic lacks basic diagnostic equipment and adequate supplies of essential medicines, and is not capable of dealing with the severe health problems in the village. The nearest hospital is in Wukro, a town 54 km away. There is a 60% infection rate for malaria and a regional rate of 4.2% for HIV/AIDS.

Access to safe water for drinking and irrigation is a major challenge. Six out of the 10 hand-dug wells are not accessible and only 34 families have access to safe drinking water. The closest river is a 2 km walk, which is practically nonexistent in the dry season. Trenches dug in the dry riverbed, a popular solution to the water crisis, often yield unsafe water. New technologies and new techniques are needed to quickly address the situation .

Intervention Highlights

Koraro is undergoing major improvements in infrastructure, such as constructing micro-dams for water storage, building safe water points, and building and refurbishing classrooms. The instigation of a school feeding program in the cluster is helping to improve performance and attendance. The cluster is also supporting over 8,000 girls with school supplies to relieve the financial burden of attending school.

Agriculture: Increase crop yields and decrease hunger
Several critical agriculture interventions have taken place over the past year. The community has been trained on improved planting techniques, horticulture, and the use of fertilizer and improved seed. Maize crop yields have increased by 16 percent and teff yields increased 64 percent on average.
Health: Improve access to basic medical services and combat the spread of major diseases
Insecticide-treated malaria bed nets have been distributed to all sleeping sites in the Koraro cluster. 75 community health workers were trained in bednet usage and monitoring. Additional health personnel have been hired for the clinic.
Water: Improve sanitation and increase access to safe water points

12 new water points have been created in the cluster and 18 are being constructed, including hand-dug wells. To support agricultural efforts, three micro-dams are being constructed and one micro-dam is being renovated.