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Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism

Reducing poverty among rural youth and women in Ethiopia

KEY IMPACTS

  • 68 professionals and extensionists trained in fattening techniques and entrepreneurial development in Tigray and Amhara and 610 households developed small ruminant fattening businesses, improving livelihoods.
  • 12 rural savings and credit cooperatives trained in financial management and savings mobilization.
  • A reference document was produced for decision makers: “Employment creation potential in small ruminant value chains in the Ethiopian Highlands”.
  • The project indirectly informed the implementation of the Ethiopia Livestock Master Plan (2016); and projects funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2016); and the World Bank (2018) for Ethiopia.

For many poor Ethiopian youth, Saudi Arabia was the promised land. They set off on a perilous journey, paying traffickers to ferry them across the water to Yemen, where they took their chances in a war zone to reach the Saudi border.

Kiflom, 24, was one of many who left in search of a better life. He set off in 2013, hoping to return with the start-up capital to set up a small business in his home town of Atsbi-Wenberta, around 100 km from Mekele, the capital city of Tigray.

He found work as a shepherd in Saudi Arabia, but his dream came crashing down around his ears when the Gulf state began cracking down on illegal migrants.

In six months in 2017 alone, the Saudi authorities deported an estimated 70 000 Ethiopians.

“It was a traumatising experience, as I had to leave all of my belongings behind,” he said. “I needed to rebuild my life from scratch.

Kiflom’s prospects improved, however, when he got involved in a pilot project that helps landless youth and women begin small ruminant fattening businesses.

The project saw an opportunity for change in the strong correlation between poverty in Ethiopia and the lack of livestock ownership. Agriculture accounts for around 37 percent of Ethiopia’s Gross Domestic Product, according to the World Bank, with the livestock sector contributing approximately one‑third of this.

The project combined training in productivity improvements with the strengthening of producers’ organizations and improved access to financial services, allowing people to set up sheep and goat fattening businesses.

Through rural savings and credit cooperatives, the project loaned each youth ETB 10 000 (around USD 500), which was enough for them to buy eight sheep, supplemented feed, drugs and services. 

Kiflom started out with ten sheep. After fattening, he sold four of his sheep at a profit. He then purchased a further four to fatten for Ethiopian Easter. He plans to acquire more. He also diversified his business into chicken rearing, which supplements his income.

In total, the pilot project reached 610 rural households, who gained technical knowledge on how to fatten and run small ruminant fattening businesses and accessed credit facilities to start commercial activity. More importantly, local service providers in both Amhara and Tigray were trained to support this kind of initiative on a larger scale.

As the know-how and access to credit and markets is in place, other households can follow the same path.

Now Kiflom wants to spread his good fortune, believing he can change the lives of the youth in his village by influencing them to engage in similar business.

“More than the money I am making, I am happy to be working on my own small livestock business which I can develop into something big,” he said.