Success story: Lending a hand in southern Ethiopia

In the southern region of Ethiopia, communities have suffered from harsh drought conditions for decades. Most households depend on cash and food assistance programs for survival. As a result, life expectancy rates are decreasing rapidly, children are malnourished, and most have little hope for the future.
In response, CHF International recently launched the Generating Employment and Building Independence (GEBI) program in the regional capital of Awassa, in Ethiopia's Southern Nation Nationality and People's Region. CHF International, in collaboration with United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the regional government and the local districts (weredas), is focusing on linking the chronically food insecure population to local and regional markets. The program works to generate employment and build citizens' economic independence by assisting the Ethiopian government in implementing and strengthening its new Productive Safety Net Program (PNSP). The PNSP is a major donor-government collaborative effort that aims to reduce food insecurity and hunger, by providing food or cash to people who participate and work in the initiative's public employment programs.

CHF International held an event on May 5, 2005 to celebrate the launch of GEBI, which was co-hosted by the regional government's Food Security Department and attended by representatives of the regional government and seven local weredas (districts). The event was very successful, as it was the first time the regional and wereda governments discussed the progress and challenges of the PSNP. Many unresolved issues regarding the PSNP, such as the transferal of wages to GEBI's poor and undernourished populace were clarified.

GEBI allows members of the participating communities to enhance their agricultural productivity through improved technologies. Bee-keeping and poultry production have been introduced to the local population, so they can sustain regular incomes and reduce their dependency on cash and food assistance programs. A number of activities, such as the construction of wells to improve community access to water, methods to irrigate their fields, and special ploughs to increase the land's ability to retain moisture, have also been promoted within each community.

The new technologies have resulted in one of the most successful crop seasons the communities have ever had. Farmers and other beneficiaries are selling their produce to their communities, contributing to the area's economic growth. The region has benefited greatly from CHF International's training programs, which is enhancing their chances for future success.

CHF International has been working in Ethiopia since January 2004, empowering communities by exposing them to a more diverse base of income-generating opportunities and helping alleviate the economic impact and physical vulnerability that come after years of drought.