Business skills development improving lives in Communities
Cooperatives in Eastern Ethiopia are helping communities to adapt their livelihoods to the unpredictability in weather patterns brought about by climate change.
Kadra Abdi is a 38 year old widow living with her 6 children in Madawayn, Harshin district, in the eastern part of Ethiopia, close to the border to Somaliland. This part of the country is charaterized by recurring droughts, poor vegetation and heavy biannual rains. Kadra, like the majority of the people living in this area, is a pastoralist. The living conditions in Madawayn are very harsh; Kadra’s livelihood is based on raising livestock but it does not provide for long term security and she is worried about her children’s future.
Three UN Agencies have engaged in a joint programme to offer tools to populations in drought prone areas of Ethiopia. The MDG Environment Joint Programme, implemented through UNDP, FAO and UNEP in four drought prone Regions of Ethiopia, has brought an innovative approach to supporting vulnerable communities to adapt to a changing, unpredictable climate and long periods of drought. The project tackles the issue of climate change from three angles: the policy (at national level), the technical support (namely rehabilitating water points and enhancing rangeland management), and livelihood diversification and training for local pastoral communities. It also provides equipment for the governement partners involved, such as the Livestock Bureau, and trainings for each activity implemented which contributes to the project’s long term impacts.
- The establishment and strengthening of cooperatives, one of the activities supported by the MDG Environment Joint Programme in Ethiopia with a total budget of 4 million USD, is implemented in 4 Regions across the country. So far 17 pastoral associations in total have been involved with the intervention benefiting 32,160 people (17 502 male and 14 658 female).
- Climate change mitigation and adaptation options for pastoralists has been mainstreamed into national, regional and district development frameworks, such as development plans, strategies and policies.
- The institutional capacities of the Government and pastoral communities have been strengthened through trainings so that they effectively respond to climate change risks and challenges at all levels
- Pastoral community's coping mechanisms/sustainable livelihood has been enhanced, namely through development of water facilities, range land management activities and cooperatives.
Kadra is one of the beneficiaries of the MDG Environment Joint Programme. She volunteered to participate in the livelihood diversification activity and is active in the newly established cooperative in Madawayn. The cooperative, made up of 14 members (11 women, 3 men) helps to increase the revenue of its members by improving their business skills through the purchase, fattening and resale of goats and sheep at a higher price. The benefit produced from this activity enables the cooperative members to invest in other income generating activities.
For Kadra, the cooperative has given her more than an increased source of income. “Being part of a cooperative has brought me moral support; this is very important to me since my husband passed away a few years ago and I am raising my children alone”, says Kadra. She also says that her ideas have been positively received, thus enhancing her self confidence. She recalls one such incident: “I suggested saving the cooperative’s inital benefits instead of spending it immediately, and the cooperative members accepted this idea”, said Kadra.
Through this programme, UNDP, FAO and UNEP wish to encourage community engagement and collective action by providing the community members with vocational and business skills training. So far, over 20 cooperatives have been set up under this project in the four target Regions, involving training for over 1000 individuals.
Kadra feels that her chance for a better life is growing and she is intending to create a small business such as a clothes and shoes store. Her outlook is shared by the other cooperative members who also have great hope that their encouraging prospects will flourish and so that they could establish farms and sell their products. Their positive results has inspired the creation of other cooperatives in the same district, thus replicating the benefits of this initiative.
The objectives of this programme are linked to the national priorities of achieving a climate resilience green economy by supporting communities in drought prone areas of Ethiopia in understanding the impacts of climate change and providing them with tools to adapt to them.