Eritrea’s Remarkable Transformation: From Dams to Self-Reliance
Eritrea, situated along the Red Sea’s vast coastline, confronts a significant challenge—limited access to fresh water. Moreover, the country’s irregular rainfall patterns have left most of its territory arid, creating a considerable hurdle for Eritreans whose livelihoods depend on agriculture and livestock.
In a remarkable turnaround, Eritrea has embarked on a journey of transformation. In just three years, the country harnessed its local engineering talent and rallied thousands of Eritreans, including students from technical and vocational schools, to unite in building the Msilam Dam.
The Msilam Dam: A Reservoir of Hope
Situated in the village of Gergera, the Msilam Dam boasts an impressive capacity of 350 million cubic meters. Moreover, beyond its primary role of providing clean water to towns such as Dekemhare, Debarwa, and Mendefera, it has emerged as a catalyst for transformative livestock, agricultural, and industrial production.
The abundance of water from the Msilam Dam has paved the way for dairy farming. Halhale Dairy Farm, part of an agro-processing facility, spans 550 hectares and has seen its cattle population grow since its inception in 2017.
Eritrea’s Ambitious Plans and Collaborations
Eritrea is now looking to expand its innovative project further and is seeking support from trusted partners like the African Development Bank Group.
African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina recently visited Eritrea, exploring the extensive facilities and discussing plans for collaboration. The visit reflects Eritrea’s desire to use the project as a pilot scheme for establishing similar dairy farms across the country.
A Vision for Agro-Industrial Zones and Beyond Dams
Adesina highlighted the potential of Eritrea’s dams for hosting the Bank’s Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones initiative. The African Development Bank plans to send a team to Eritrea for further planning.
Adesina praised Eritrea’s self-reliant approach and expressed the Bank’s commitment to support the nation’s financial system for agro-industrialization. The Bank also recognizes the potential of the local private sector and Eritrean diaspora for investment.
Collaborative Engineering Corps and Holistic Approaches
Adesina proposed the idea of establishing an African engineering corps that could contribute to major engineering works in different countries, leveraging Eritrea’s engineering expertise.
The African Development Bank is actively involved in initiatives aimed at increasing water availability for crops and livestock, contributing significantly to food security in Eritrea.
A Future of Collaboration and Building Self-Reliance
Adesina pledged increased support to Eritrea across various sectors, including agriculture, climate resilience, energy, and financial market development. Furthermore, he emphasized the importance of using Eritrea’s experience to benefit other countries and leveraging technology for agricultural transformation.
In addition, Adesina lauded Eritrea’s strong sense of purpose, determination, and patriotism, highlighting the nation’s self-belief and commitment to national development.
Strengthening Partnerships for a Brighter Future
The African Development Bank and United Nations agencies committed to collaborating further to enhance development impact in Eritrea, covering areas like climate resilience, capacity development, energy, pharmaceuticals, and water and sanitation.
As Eritrea charts its path to self-reliance and development, the nation’s innovative approach and commitment to transformation serve as an inspiring example for the African continent and beyond.