The Ethiopian region of Chuko is home to 54, 655 people who comprise around 14, 560 households. For the past three years, we at Diaconia ECCB – CRD have been working with Bread for the World (Germany) and our Ethiopian partner EECMY/DSSC-SCES to enhance the economic strength and agricultural output of the Chuko community. The project, which lasted three years (2013-2015), ended this past December.
Our main development goal as an organization is to help people become independent; therefore, all of our projects are managed on a timeline with a focus on creating economic strength as opposed to dependency. We closed the project with an eye towards the future and in the confidence that the economic future of the Chuko community is brighter than the past.
The rhythm of life in Chuko follows the pulse of farm labor and the weather cycle.
Village residents raise a diverse crop set, growing enset (an ancient African grain) corn, pineapples, coffee, and mangos. Animal husbandry is also common on the family farms where cows, goats, and sheep provide not only extra protein, but also serve as “commodities” of trade– animals diversify the household economy.
As the population of the region grows, growing plots and farm fields must be shared. The soil is intensively cultivated to ensure that everyone has food. Stresses upon the land are great, negatively affecting the soil quality and quickly depleting the loam’s mineral health and molecular composition. Desiccation is a serious problem. Households are often only able to cultivate the land for 3-5 months out of the year, leading to food shortages. Healthcare across the region is sparse, and many of the residents lack access to clean water. Unfortunately, the local government and regional officials do not have the monetary resources to improve the situation.
The three-year partnership between Diaconia ECCB-CRD, Bread for the World, and EECMY/DSSC-SCES focused on the following goals:
- Improve harvest outputs and diversify household economies.
- Enhance sustainability of farming through organic and natural techniques.
- Diversify household incomes.
- Enhance the health of people and communities through access to clean water.
- strengthen grassroots community organizations
- Improve the economic independence of women.
New sources of Income
We provided farmers with quality seedlings of enset, coffee, pineapple, mango, and avocado trees, along with tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, and radishes.
Farmers attended training lectures where they were shown the best growing and harvesting methods for their new crops, and discussed natural ways in which to improve the fertility and health of the soil, so as to mitigate the use of expensive chemical fertilizers. The goal of the project was to simultaneously heal the land and improve crop yields.
A few farmers also agreed to build and strengthen irrigation canals so they would not be dependent upon irregular rains.
After three years of working together, we have witnessed the improvement of harvest yields, which have enhanced local diets and enabled farmers to sell a wider variety of crops at the market.
Milk and Honey
Ethiopian cows are smaller in stature and therefore only produce about 16 fluid ounces of milk per day. The quality and amount of milk produced is directly related to the health and genetics of the dairy cows. To improve the health of the cows and the quality/quantity of the milk produced, we provided artificial insemination services for the farmers and improved the breeding stock of the herds.
To ensure that results are seen from this work, we acknowledge that more time is needed. Therefore, we have trained a select group of farmers and animal care specialists in the methods of artificial insemination. We have also provided them with better animal feed. The veterinarian clinic where these services are offered is located directly in Chuko.
Forty young farmers were also trained in beekeeping. We also assisted them in building 24 healthy hives. Through the sale of high-quality honey, these farmers are able to enhance their profits at the local market.
With partners and community members we built 10 new clean-water access points along with 90 latrines. These developments have greatly improved the quality of the water in the region, improving both the health of children and adults.
Savings and Loans
The economic position of women has improved through the establishment of 12 savings-and-loan cooperatives, which are organized and managed by the women themselves. Their names bely the power and hope of group action: Humility, Power/Strength, Opportunity, Light, Goodness and Power, etc.
Members of the cooperative have access to start-up loans, which they use to found businesses or purchase inventory–loans are commonly taken to buy feed or animals to enhance private herds.
Residents of Chuko know that it is only through their own skills and talents that the goals of the project will continue to be realized. The talent, knowledge, creativity, and passion are inherent within the community. Our role as an organization was merely to provide a few of the resources necessary to help them on their way.
And their motivation is high. They know the benefits that come from diversifying their local economies and improving the health of their communities. The farmers who have been working with us are now able to provide a healthy, diverse diet for their children and families. The foundation has been laid, and now the real building can begin.
Our Livelihoods Project in Chuko could not have been realized without the support of the Czech Development Agency, our local partners, the fantastic people of Chuko, and individual supporters (like you). We thank you.