FAO and UNHCR in Ethiopia are collaborating on a joint project to generate evidence through analysis of the food security, agricultural and livestock livelihoods situations and the needs of refugees and their host communities in the three main refugee hosting areas of Ethiopia (Benishangul Gumuz/Gambella, Tigray/Afar, and Somali). To do this, joint assessments are currently being conducted to generate evidence to support the design of economic inclusion programs.
During the initial phase of this work, FAO deployed experts in the three main refugee hosting areas of Benishangul Gumuz/Gambella, Tigray/Afar and Somali during February and March 2020. A participatory agricultural and livestock value chain selection exercise was conducted to narrow down three value chains per refugee hosting area.
Inputs were collected in two ways: through Focus Group Discussions (FGD) with refugee and host communities, and through Key Informant Interviews (KII) with development experts from the regional government and other development organizations operating in the refugee hosting area.
In the Tigray and Afar cluster, a total of 24 FGDs were conducted in the two regions with a total of 105 people participating in the discussions. For the KIIs, a total of 42 experts were asked to identify the top five value chains in their area and rank them according to their potential value in improving the livelihoods of refugees and the host communities.
Similarly, 21 FGDs were conducted in the two regions of Gambella and Benishangul-Gumuz, with a total of 298 people participating in the discussions. Despite the original plan to conduct a total of 24 FGDs, three FGDs with host community groups couldn’t be conducted due to logistical issues. 10 experts were also consulted for the KIIs.
In the Somali region, a total of 6 FGDs were conducted in the Dollo ado area with a total of 110 people participating in the discussions. For the KIIs, a total of 10 experts were interviewed.
Comparative ranking and scoring of short-listed value chains was done across five major dimensions and related sub-dimensions. The dimension with the highest weighting was the economic dimension (45 percent), which assessed the potential of the VC to increase income and create jobs for refugees and the host community; the market demand for the commodity; and the potential to increase production and productivity. The institutional and social inclusion dimensions both had weightings of 20 percent. The Institutional dimension covered aspects such as alignment with government policy and ongoing development projects, and the potential for private sector involvement; and the social dimension evaluated the chains against their potential to create jobs for women and youth, and to encourage collaborative activities between refugee and host communities. The environmental dimension accounted for 10 percent and assessed the potential of the commodity to build climate resilience and resource efficiency among refugees and host communities. The remaining 5 percent was allocated to an assessment of the chains’ ability to deliver food security and nutrition to refugees and host communities in terms of both availability and affordability of the commodity for the target community members.
A total of 9 value chains (three per cluster) were identified during the selection exercise. With the exception of the Somali region, the clusters were composed of two regions sharing three value chains. As a result, in each cluster one region was targeted for the selection of two value chains while the other region selected one. The rationale for selecting two value chains for some regions (Tigray and Gambella) and one value chain for the others (Afar and Benishangul-Gumuz) was mainly based on the presence of a higher refugee population (i.e. in the region with more refugees, two value chains were selected).
Two value chains for Tigray Regional State and one value chain for Afar Regional State were identified.
Cattle fattening and shoat (sheep and goat) production were selected for Tigray region while goat production was ranked number one for Afar region. Comparably, in the Gambella/Benishangul-Gumuz cluster, vegetables and maize production were selected in Gambella region while soybean prevailed in Benishangul-Gumuz.
Finally, in the Somali region, the value chain selection exercise was reduced to one commodity (i.e. rather than three), as according to the Melkadida UNHCR mission, two out of three value chains had already been identified and prioritized by other ongoing activities/development projects in the region without the need for conducting a further selection exercise. The two pre-selected value chains were dairy and frankincense/gum. In the Dollo Ado area of Somali Region, onion was selected as the most relevant crop value chain as a result of the participatory ranking exercise conducted by FAO.
The assessment also identified a range of livelihood options available in each region from off-farm and non-farm economic activities and micro enterprise developments.
In the Tigray region, shoat and cattle fattening value chains received high scores in the economic dimension by achieving 82 percent and 86 percent respectively. This result is unsurprising given that both the refugee hosting communities in north western Tigray zone and the refugees in Shimelba (Kunama tribes) currently depend on livestock rearing as a main livelihood, and refugees in Shimelba and May Ayni Camp also practice cattle fattening and sheep and goat production, like the host communities in Tahtay Adiabo and Tselemti woredas. A high score in the institutional dimension was also attained as both value chains are prioritized by the regional government and NGOs working around the refugee hosting areas.
In the Afar region, results of the FGD and KII clearly showed goat production is a priority commodity for both refugee and host communities. From the maximum score of 72 points, goat production achieved 61.
It scored well in the economic and institutional dimension as well as the food security and nutrition dimensions as the communities depend on animal products (milk and meat) for their protein intake.
Refugee hosting communities in the Berahle woreda are pastoralists who keep only goats and camel, and refugees found in Berahle and Asihaita camp are Afar tribes migrated from the Eritrean side. Both the refugees and the hosting community have the same culture and livestock rearing practice, and therefore the selection of the goat VC appears to be a sound choice for future collaboration.
In the Gambella region the results from the FGDs and the KIIs differed. FGD participants ranked vegetables first and maize second. The vegetables (tomato and okra) value chain achieved a relatively high score across three key dimensions: economic, food security & nutrition, and social inclusion. Maize scored the highest in the food security and nutrition dimension as it could be available year-round, is a staple food for both refugee and host communities and is considered affordable. For the KII ranking exercise, dairy and fish were identified as the most important value chains for project intervention, although the maize value chain was included by KIIs in the top-3. This can be explained by the broader experience and exposure that the KIIs have to the entire territory, when compared to the findings from the FDGs held in only two villages and two camps where dairy was not deemed relevant by the communities. When combined, the aggregate score from the FGDs and KIIs showed that vegetable production (tomato and okre) was ranked as number one while maize was ranked second. Both of these chains strongly reflect the interests of the refugee and host communities who will be the ultimate beneficiaries of any future livelihood interventions.
In the Benishangul-Gumuz region, again the results from the FGDs and the KIIs differed. Shoat was ranked highest by the refugee and host communities, yet soybean prevailed for the KIIs. Shoat scored the highest across the economic, food security and nutrition, and environment dimensions, yet was not considered to be a strong option for engaging youth and women, nor for enhancing integration and collaboration between the host and refugee community. When combined, the aggregate score from the FGDs and KIIs revealed that soybean attained the highest score for Benishangul-Gumuz region. Overall it delivers strong potential across all five key dimensions and there is already some evidence that supports the potential for future collaboration by refugee and host communities in the region through existing livelihood activities involving lease-farming and hire of refugee labour to support farm activities.
Finally, in the Somali region, the two pre-selected value chains were dairy and frankincense/gum, and onion was selected by both FGDs and KIIs as the most relevant crop value chain for the Dollo Ado area. The onion value chain was given high scores across the economic, institutional and social dimensions. It is as an important cash crop for refugee and host communities, and the Dollo area has a comparative economic advantage based on the potential to produce off-season. It is also on the priority list of the local government and has been prioritized by several development organizations. It was found to be a suitable crop for engaging women and youth in production and marketing and was considered as an important crop to foster economic integration as there are already cases of joint production by members of the refugee and host communities through share cropping arrangements.
Across all three regions KII and FGD participants were asked to suggest business ideas outside of the agricultural value chains, that could be suitable to engage both host and refugee communities. A range of ideas were suggested across the regions with some cross-cutting suggestions emerging including: small scale retailing and services (cafes, hairdressing, shoe-shining, tailoring, carpentry and pottery), transport services, agricultural labour, briquette making; as well as some region-specific ideas such as salt mining (Afar region), and other activities where refugee communities already had specific skills (e.g. soap making in Dollo Ado area, Somali Region).
The next phase of this project will focus on analyzing in more depth the specific value chains selected in the three refugee-hosting clusters in Ethiopia, with a view to ultimately developing regional value chain assessment and investment reports to support the design of agriculture and livestock livelihood development programs. An analysis of all actors along the value chains will take place and efforts will be made to identify key intervention points where upgrading activities could be initiated or further strengthened to benefit both refugee populations and host communities to achieve improved livelihood outcomes.