An irrigation project financed by gifts from the LDS Church to help Ethiopian famine victims is finally paying off, church officials say.
Three years ago, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the United States and Canada gave up their meals for two days and donated the cost of the missed food to famine victims throughout the world, said Isaac Ferguson, director of humanitarian services for the church."Much of the $11 million raised went immediately into food, tents, medical supplies and other emergency assistance," Ferguson said in an article in the church's August issue of Ensign Magazine, which went on newstands Saturday.
"But some of that money is still helping those in need," Ferguson said.
One of those projects, an irrigation system to help the community of Geddobar, Ethiopia, was just completed this summer, with the help of the Africare relief agency, he said.
"In the spirit of the church's welfare services philosophy of helping people to help themselves, officials determined some of the money donated should go into projects that would promote long-term self-reliance," Ferguson said.
Completion of the Geddobar proj-ect "is a dream come true, both for its benefactors and for the nearly 1,650 farm families who have worked so hard to help make it a reality," he said.
The church and relief agency organized the Geddobar farmers to dig 15 miles of canals and construct a diversion dam, and showed them how to operate and maintain the system to provide year-round water to the community.
Ethiopian government officials praised the project, he said, because it will "provide lifelong independence for these people and allow them to double or triple their crop output."
Other work the $11 million helped fund included a reforestation proj-ect in Niger, irrigation projects in Bolivia, Chad and Nigeria, and polio immunizations for more than one million children in Kenya and the Ivory Coast.
Ferguson called the church's efforts "a no-strings-attached way to provide charitable services. In other words, giving service to others without expecting anything in return."