VSLAs Savings Exceed 1.1 Million Birr

A Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) is a group of people who save together and take small loans from those savings. The purpose of a VSLA is to provide simple savings and loan facilities in a community that does not have easy access to formal financial services. Over the past decade, VSLAs have attracted attention among development partners and governments. The VSLA approach is a well organized and accountable system that even the least literate, least influential member of the group can understand and trust. The system is very simple; but the results are powerful. The promise of VSLAs lie in their ability to empower people to work their own way out of the poverty trap, while avoiding dependency and handouts from aid. Numerous studies have found substantial positive impacts of participation in VSLAs, specifically in the areas of eradicating poverty, promoting children’s education, improving health outcomes for women and children, and empowering women.[read more=”Continue Reading..” less=”Less”]

Having these benefits in mind, PRIME supported Private Service Providers (PSPs) for the formation and expansion of VSLAs through the PSP model, which was selected because of its cost effectiveness and sustainability. PSPs train VSLAs, for a fee, paid by the VSLAs, eliminating the need for long-term external technical support. The main advantage of this approach is that new VSLAs continue to be created (and supported) after a project has ended.

The approach was started early in the month of July 2014 by providing eight days induction training for PSPs across all PRIME intervention areas. The PSPs are expected to transform individuals into effective VSLA by organizing, communicating, and paying attention to how the group members work together. PSPs create an environment of respect and safety, encourage active listening, and help groups to plan and monitor. PSPs are help to ensure the success of the VSLA. They help participants to understand their own self-interest in joining a VSLA. PSPs build awareness and confidence among VSLA members so that they adopt the system, keep it within their control, and work independently.

As of the reporting period of Quarter 10, the number of groups formed Via PSP approach across three clusters reached 232 with total members of 4,390 (68% are women) respectively. On top of these, value of saving reached 1,155,012 (ETB) and value of loan outstanding is also about 305,450 (ETB) respectively.

The groups also save social fund for emergency loans or grants to take care of unexpected and urgent needs, during weekly meetings or in between. The total social fund balance also reached 212,780 (ETB). The social fund is to address social issues such as emergency assistance, educational costs for orphans, funeral expenses, maternity, etc. these prevents members from VSLA members in Kebribeya Woreda unexpected shocks during disaster and overcomes shortage of money to cover unexpected situations.

Mercy Corps is also using the Management Information System (MIS) to conveniently track a variety of VSLAs data established via Private Service Providers (PSP) approach across all clusters. The SAVIX MIS will help to know which Private Service Providers are performing the best and which Private Service Providers are performing the worst. Additionally, it helps to track the data or status of VSLAs and it supports to take corrective action in improving their performance. Please click the link to download the success story, VSLAs Savings Exceed 1.1 Million Birr


Fodder Intervention Improves Household Nutrition Status

Fodder and feed intervention improves milk productivity

Ibrahim and his daughter milking the targeted lactating cow

“Fodder and feed support improved my lactating cow and its calf health, increased milk production and also enhanced household nutrition status.” Ibrahim Hassen Pastoralist, Doho village

Ibrahim Hassen, 57, is a father of five girls and two boys and lives in Doho village, Afar Regional State. The main source of food for his household is milk and milk products. He also earns some amount of money working as a laborer in the nearby Kesem Sugar Factory though his wages are inadequate to cover his household expenses. Recurrent droughts have deteriorated pasture of the rangelands and his lactating cow was malnourished and got sick. He used his hard-earned money from his job as a laborer to buy drugs for the cow. The drought was taking a toll on the animals. “My milking cow with its four month calf would have died if the fodder and feed intervention was late by a week,” he says. He is referring to the fodder and feed distributed by the USAID-supported project Pastoralist Areas Resilience Improvement through Market Expansion (PRIME) to vulnerable households with the support from Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).

PRIME responded to the emergency situation through a voucher system, distributing a 105-kg of hay and 45-kg of concentrated feed per lactating cow. Ibrahim fed the lactating cow daily according to the prescribed amount by the community animal health workers. “Praise Allah and PRIME, my cow and its calf health condition has been improving for the last two weeks since they started eating the fodder and the feed. Its daily milk productivity rose to five liters from half a liter before the intervention. Words are not enough to express my happiness when I see my children enjoying milk,” he says.[read more = “Continue Reading..” less=”Less”]The intervention has benefited 7000 pastoral households of Amibara, Awash Fentale, Gelauelu and Gewane woredas by protecting productive livestock assets from undesirable effects of pasture shortages resulting from prolonged failure of rain and supported household nutrition of vulnerable family members.
PRIME project is a five-year (2012-2017), USAID-funded Feed the Future initiative aimed at increasing incomes of 250,000 households and enhancing resilience to climate change through market opportunities in Ethiopia’s pastoral dry land areas.Please click the link to download this success story.


Social Analysis and Action Approach Enhances Reselience

A member of a social analysis and action group comes up with an innovative way of producing fodder, setting a good example for her community

Social Analysis and Action Approach Enhances Reselience“Thanks to the knowledge I acquired from our meetings, I began farming and planting feed crops.” Huqo Dulacha, Member of an SAA in Borena

Analysis and Action (SAA) group established in Cholkasa Kebele of the Borena Zone in Oromiya Region. Initially developed by CARE, SAA is an approach that is implemented to address root causes of societal and behavioral issues that are holding back communities. The USAID-supported, Pastoralist Areas Resilience Improvement through Market Expansion (PRIME) has adopted this approach to address underlying drivers of vulnerability to climate change and the behavioral and socio-cultural factors limiting adaptive capacity. The approach helps households, communities and local stakeholders reflect on their own perceptions of underlying causes of societal and behavioral issues that are holding back communities. The project has achieved concrete results through the application of this approach. Huqo’s story is an example of PRIME’s success in transforming lives by engaging communities in regularly recurring dialoges leading to an outcome of mutual changeHuqo’s group has so far met four times, and during these meetings, members deliberated on the benefits of fodder production and preservation as a risk management measure. [read more=”Continue Reading” less=”Less”]

The group also discussed the opportunity to earn extra income from the marketing of feed.To show how the group discussions transformed her thinking, Huqo explains, “Since our first discussion on fodder production, I started planning how I can start producing fodder in my plot. Thanks to the knowledge I acquired from our meetings, I began farming and planting feed crops.” Now, Huqo has proved to her neighbors and fellow-villagers the value of planting feed crops and she is a model fodder crop producer. As Huqo and her neighbors confirmed, others in Huqo’s village have started to benefit from her experience and have already started planting fodder seeds.Huqo Dulacha planted elephant grass and sugar cane when there was hardly any similar experience among the Borena pastoralist communities. At the time of a field visit in June, Huqo had begun harvesting and piling her fodder to reserve for the dry period. She had also started cattle fattening in her yard.PRIME has so far established 11 core groups and 57 sub-groups across its implementation areas, with total beneficiary members of 3096 of whom nearly 1,600 are women.Please click the link to download this success story, Social Analysis and Action Approach Enhances Reselience


Skills-based Training Provides Reliable Access to Solar Power

An entrepreneur’s business using solar system increases income and creates jobs

“As for maintenance, I’m the expert in solar systems around here.” Dawd Wako, Mobile phone charging service provider

Lack of access to energy poses several challenges to residents of rural pastoral Ethiopia, affecting their livelihood tremendously. For example, they cannot operate devices like cell phones, preventing real-time communication and making emergency response extremely difficult. People are forced to use kerosene or firewood for lighting houses at the expense of the environment, health and assets.The business of Dawd Wako, a resident of Borbor Town in Oromiya Ethiopia, is helping pastoralists tackle power issues. Dawd started the business of charging mobile phones in 2009 because he had to fend for himself. With the money his parents raised for him (3,500 birr/USD175), Dawd bought a 60-watt solar system and started to receive mobiles for charging. His excitement didn’t last long, however. Due to lack of knowledge and skills to install and operate the solar system, Dawd couldn’t charge the phones. He had to make several trips to nearby towns and even to Kenya to get the phones charged, and to buy batteries which were breaking down due to improper installation and handling. Dawd’s operational cost was so high that he was about to throw in the towel. [read more=”Continue Reading..” less=”Less”]

Fortunately, a rare opportunity opened up for Dawd in 2013. The USAID-supported project, Pastoralist Areas Resilience Improvement through Market Expansion (PRIME) worked with Dayod Engineering Plc to deliver a 10-day training in solar energy to him and 69 other entrepreneurs, who learned not only how to install solar panels but also how to use and maintain them.That training turned around Dawd’s business. His batteries stopped breaking down. “As for maintenance,” Dawd says proudly, “I’m the expert in solar systems around here.” Today, his income from mobile phone charging is more than 6000 birr (USD 300) a month. Moreover, he promotes and sells Dayod Engineering’s so-lar products to pastoralists for a commission of 10 percent. Dawd has also opened up a butcher shop, which is earning him more than 12,000 birr (USD 600) a month and he is planning to open a restaurant soon. Recently, Dawd hired two employees who sup-port him with the mobile phone charging business. Each earns 600 birr (USD 20) a month. On the whole, Dawd has come a long way. His business has not only changed his life but touched the lives of others, and has become a resource person for his kebele, of which he is proud.PRIME works to significantly improve alternative livelihood options through essential skills transfer including basic employability skills, and entrepreneurship and technical training. Dawd is just one of thousands of young women and men for whom PRIME has facilitated training in these areas.Please click the link to download this success story, Skills-based Training Provides Reliable Access to Solar Power


PRIME Field Agents Enhance Resilience

Training in VSLA facilitation opens up job opportunities

“My life has suddenly changed for the better, and my future is no more
bleak.” Guyo Buke, PRIME field agent for VSLA

 Guyo Buke Susana, 25, who lives in Miyo district of Oromiya Region, is a high school graduate but his education didn’t prepare him for the better life he dreamed of. Given the scarcity of job opportunities in rural Ethiopia, jobs were not easy to come by. “I had no livelihood at all,” says Guyo, talking about how desperate he was about his future.The USAID-supported Pastoralist Areas Resilience Improvement through Market Expansion (PRIME) project’s facilitation for the formation of village level savings and loan associations (VSLAs) brought hope for Guyo. In 2014, PRIME provided an eight-day training on standard VSLA methodologies and entrepreneurship skills. The training enabled Guyo to understand what the VSLA and private service provider (PSP) model is; how savings and internal loans work for communities and how to do VSLA individual self- screening, group formation and governance. Guyo was certified to serve as a field agent for PRIME, and his duty is to facilitate the formation of VSLAs in his kebele.

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The VSLA model is a self-managed and self-financed association formed voluntarily with the purpose of providing members with simple savings and loan services. Without these financial services, community members were forced to sell their livestock every time they have a small financial need, often at the wrong time and at the wrong price. They were unable to save regularly either.

Initially, Guyo’s efforts of forming VSLAs were far from easy. He was met with resistance because community members were skeptical but with the knowledge about VSLAs and with the necessary facilitation and communication skills Guyo acquired in the training, he finally managed to make headway. In less than a year, Guyo has been able to facilitate the formation of eleven VSLAs. Given the trust he earned and the benefits members are obtaining from VSLAs, Guyo is confident that his work will be much easier.

Guyo invested the money he earned from members’ contributions and the one-off incentive from PRIME in farmland and livestock, and his job as a field agent has given him hope for the future. Being part of a solution to a long-standing problem in his community has been a source of satisfaction and happiness. “My life has suddenly changed for the better, and my future is no more bleak” says Guyo happily.

PRIME has so far facilitated the formation of more than 96 such groups across Borena Zone, benefitting over 2050 households and enabling them to increase their capacity to generate income, meet their immediate cash needs and control their financial resources.

Please click the link to download this success story, PRIME Field Agents Enhance Resilience [/read]