Aims & Objectives
Project Village: Maikado
High in the picturesque and atmospheric plateau of the Gheralta hills lies the village of Maikado - close to the small town of Hawzien in the province of Tigray. The people of Maikado live in roughly one thousand farmsteads (approx. 10,000 people) struggling to survive and eking out a precarious living from subsistence farming. Drought and famine are a constant threat. In both 2008 and 2009 the rains didn't come in Spring and were late in summer. Potential harvest failure and the rampant inflation afflicting Ethiopia are a deadly combination to a population already living on the edge.
The Tigray Trust has held several meetings with the local community and has designed a project to support them in finding ways of making their lives sustainable throughout the years to come. One element of the project focuses on food security and the other on maximizing the income potential of the villages fabulous cultural heritage.
Food Security & Water Supply
The Tigray Trust — a British registered charity — is dedicated to working with communities in Tigray, Ethiopia to find ways of making life in their villages more sustainable. It is currently working with a community of about 10,000 people in Maikado near the small town of Hawzien on the Gheralta Plateau.
The families are currently eking out a precarious living based on subsistence farming — vulnerable to the constant threat of drought. The Tigray Trust envisages creating an holistic project here — focussing on sustainable agriculture, improvement of water supply and the creation of an archaeological and environmental park that can be marketed to sustainable tourism.
The Tigray Trust is already in its third year of working with the community at Maikado — hitherto concentrating on its water supply and agriculture. For instance, it has been mending broken water pumps, building facilities to channel spring water into separate drinking facilities for people and animals, helping the farmers to establish small market gardens and orchards of fruit trees on their land, providing flocks of chickens, beehives and grain when harvests fail.
The Proposed Creation of an Archaeological and Environmental Park in Tigray, Ethiopia
The Tigray Trust in addition would now like to begin the creation of an archaeological and environmental park at Maikado in Spring 2012.
The people of Maikado are lucky in that they have in their village an important and exciting archaeological site dating to the time (9th to 4th century BC) when this part of Ethiopia was part of the land of Sheba, whose Queen made a great journey to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem. An ever-increasing number of travellers are coming to the Gheralta Plateau to visit the rock- hewn churches there. Were the site at Maikado to be excavated and a park created (incorporating a small museum to display the treasures unearthed there) then the people of Maikado could supplement their meagre incomes with revenue from the park.
Remains at Maikado bear testimony to its great past. It would be fitting if this illustrious past could be utilised to help those who live there today in poverty. A monumental monolith — carved with the sun and crescent moon of Sheba — lies prone and half-buried. An inscription on its underside tells that it was erected by King Bazat of Agabo — probably in celebration of his victory in battle as a vast ancient battlefield lies nearby. On a man-made mound further up the valley-side stands Maryam Anza, a modern church clearly built on the ruins of what was once a great temple — probably dedicated to a Moon God. Local tradition connects the remains with ancient gold mining — evoking the riches carried by the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon. Modern gold prospectors trenching on nearby Vulture Hill recently found an ancient gold mine with a human skull embedded in the mine-shaft.
The excavations, the creation of the park and its trails, the planting of the trees and the construction of the museum will employ large numbers of the local community. Once the park is completed they will be able to charge an entry fee to the park and can also sell locally made crafts and produce to their visitors.
The Tigray Trust believes that a project such as this — concentrating on water supply, agriculture and cultural heritage — will do much to make life more sustainable for the people of Maikado.
- January 2012
The Tigray Trust envisages a three-year project at Maikado to create an environmental and archaeological park.
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