MELCA-Ethiopia was established in December 2004. The organization has colorfully celebrated its tenth year anniversary on the 21st of March 2015 in Bale zone, Dinisho woreda. Bale is the area famous for its abundant biodiversity and culture.
On the occasion there were invited guests who were partners of MELCA since its establishment from African Biodiversity Network (ABN) and The Gaia Foundation, board members of MELCA, government administrative bodies of Dinisho woreda, local communities and students.
Dinsho woreda administrator, Ato Getahun Legese, officially opened the celebration by an opening speech. As ato Getahun said, in his speech, “Bale zone is an area endowed with abundant natural resource, culture and people proud of their cultural values.
Particularly Dinsho woreda, as it is surrounded by Bale mountains national park, is attractive for both governmental and nongovernmental organizations. MELCA is one of them and also Bale is the birthplace of MELCA. Since its establishment the past ten years have created a special bond between the community of Bale and MELCA. When we talk about areas where MELCA is working in Bale zone, there are many things that arise with it.
When we talk about MELCA we talk about culture, nature, traditional knowledge and intergenerational learning. In addition to these, when we talk about MELCA we talk about youth culture and environmental activists and also we talk about revival of abandoned cultural values and improved lives of women and youth who did not have their own income. Even though MELCA is young in its age, what it has done and created in the community is Trans-generational. We want MELCA to grow and work more than what it has done and achieved so far, and for these we as organs of the government are ready to support.”
MELCA-Ethiopia director DR. Million Belay has also made a speech on the occasion. As DR. Million Belay said;
Since MELCA was established and started working, more than 5000 students who are members of SEGNI club, have changed themselves, their environment and their culture. In addition to this more than one thousand women and youth have overcome their poverty and are able to support themselves and their families. There is also a great revival in all areas where we are working. Elders who were forgotten are now able to take a front line in the community. Cultural values have got an acceptance among the young generation.
In addition to this there is a high environmental protection movement in all areas where MELCA-Ethiopia is working; forests are being protected. The adoption of sheka forest as a biosphere reserves by UNESCO, efforts that are being made to get Majang forest adopted as biosphere reserve, the conservation of suba sebeta forests under youths who are living around the area and the existence of bale forest under better protection are some examples of this.
Moreover we have shown our partnership with the government by raising and buying millions of tree seedlings to support government plan that is being implemented toward soil and water conservation. Not only this; we have bought and distributed energy saving stoves to improve health of families especially women and reduce the pressure on the forest.
Furthermore; as farmer’s seed varieties are indicators of our culture, unity, history, health, wealth and tools to prevent the disaster of climate change; we are working on improving community based agro biodiversity. As a result of this seed varieties, which were lost or displaced, are now reviving; farmers’ attitude towards their local seeds have changed. We have also helped to strengthen environmental protection for community and government by making research on national and international laws which have connection with environment and culture and by improving the awareness of decision making bodies of government. We have also brought different experiences and thought to the country by creating connection with various national and international networks.
This is accomplished by the efforts made by the community involvement, government support, members’ effort and our donors; our staffs that have also made a great effort by sacrificing their time, knowledge and sometimes their own money. For this reason they deserve great honor.”
DR. Million Belay and Dinisho woreda administrator Ato Getahun Legese torched fire which represented MELCA’s tenth year anniversary.
Students from different schools presented different cultural biodiversity shows such as cultural song and dancing, horse riding, drama, poems and other traditional shows. Elders also presented traditional conflict resolution ceremony.
There were also individuals who witnessed about MELCA’s works in their respective communities representing their community. They were present on the celebration from different project areas of MELCA, such as Sheka, Suba-sebeta, and Bale. They have uttered what MELCA has done to support them and have expressed their gratitude for the organization.
W/RO Tenagne is a female farmer and one of the beneficiaries from Telecho area of Suba-sebeta project. As she said because of MELCA’s technical and material support they are now able to engage in various income generating activities and improve their life. Ato Getachew Semu also came from Holeta area. He came by representing Holeta town youth and sport office. As ato getachew said there were many youths who used to generate income by cutting trees and producing charcoal. Afterwards MELCA has done a great job by creating awareness and organizing them in poultry and animal husbandry associations.
As they said MELCA has brought remarkable changes on their area by empowering women and youth and creating alternative means of income, by rehabilitating degraded lands and supporting farmers technically and financially.
MELCA’s partner organizations and individuals who played a great role throughout the past ten years were awarded certificate. At last there was a photo exhibition, which showed different activities of MELCA in its project areas.
The celebration was also accompanied by a visit to a Sacred Natural Site conserved by a community in Dinsho woreda through the support by MELCA.
MELCA also held its 10th annual General meeting in Bale on the day following the celebration day.
More than 3000 people including Government officials from Bale zone and Dinsho woreda, MELCA’s members and members of board of directors, participants from ABN member organizations in Africa, representatives of invited partner governmental and non governmental organizations as well as Bale community members from Dinsho, Sinana and Goba woredas.