Installation of a Small Wind Turbine Increases Income

The use of power from wind turbine benefits not only entrepreneurs but also community members

“I feel like I am the ‘powerhouse’ of the neighborhood.” Abdulahi Osman, Shop owner

Electricity access in Ethiopia is very low even by African standard. The World Energy Outlook 2010 estimated national electricity access at 17 percent in 2009. Access in the rural areas of the country is even lower.Abdulahi Osman is a resident of Hadew kebele in Fafan zone of Somali Region, which is an off-grid kebele. The main source of livelihood for Abdulahi’s family is growing maize and retail trade. Abdulahi says there are different business opportunities that people in the locality would like to engage in if it had not been for the two barriers to income generation: lack of access to electricity and financial services.Undaunted by these barriers, Abdulahi started a retail business of sugar and rice with 1500 birr (USD 75) capital a few years back. Through hard work and support from his family, Abdulahi managed to be the major provider of fast moving goods in his village. He then expanded his business by providing mobile phone charging services through a small lantern. Although there was a high demand for this service, Abdulahi couldn’t do the charging in the evenings due to the low capacity of the lantern.[read more=”Continue Reading..” less=”Less”]

The support of a USAID project, Pastoralist Areas Resilience Improvement through Market Improvement (PRIME), changed that. In line with its objective of promotion of renewable solar and wind energy source to pastoralist households, PRIME partnered with a company called Wind Empowerment to promote small Wind Turbines for rural electrification and job creation. Through the partnership, PRIME constructed a wind turbine, and installed it in Abdulahi’s shop. At a capacity of over 1kW, Abdulahi is now able to charge 30-40 phones a day unlike a maximum of eight before the installation, generating an average additional income of 2500 birr (USD125) a month. He is also enjoying 24 hours of power. He says, “I feel like I am the “Power house” of the neighborhood”. Moreover, he bought a refrigerator, which resulted in an increased demand of soft drinks. The increased demand for his goods and services, requires more labor, and Abdulahi’s wife is helping with the selling activities. Together, they are planning to expand their shop space to be able to charge more mobile phones and start a barber service.

PRIME trained 20 polytechnic college graduates to scale up the benefits that these locally manufactured small wind turbines are giving to the community both in terms of job creation for young graduates and provision of access to electricity for productive/domestic use. Moving forward, the project plans to promote the uptake of small wind turbines after analyzing income per household and willingness to spend on energy services.

Please click the link to download this success story, Installation of a Small Wind Turbine Increases Income [/read]

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.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

Gulf Food Fair Visits Turn Over Businesses

The livelihood of pastoralist families is dependent on incomes from livestock and livestock products. Addressing constraints to the export market and domestic trade, and improving the livestock market information system has, therefore, a direct benefit to improving pastoralist livelihoods. One of PRIME’s objectives is to improve market access through several interventions one of which is facilitating market linkages between producers, exporters, retailers, wholesalers and government structures.

Ato Bereket Demeke, a resident of Yabelo, has been in the livestock trading business for as long as he remembers, following his father’s footsteps; however, it wasn’t until 2002 that he set up a legal firm to trade in live animals. Demeke provided livestock animals to domestic markets, including Addis Ababa. “Export market in those days was somehow unthinkable for us,” Demeke recalls how export market was monopolized by few individuals. In 2004, however, Bereket noticed a new development; importers started to come to Ethiopia looking for clients who could supply live animals. He soon took advantage of the market development and got into the export business, which proved to be more lucrative. USAID’s support to attend the Gulf Food Fair in 2012 was an eye opener for him. His business has been doing well ever since.

Bereket has been attending the Gulf Food Fair consistently and his business is growing. USAID supported his trip to Dubai for the second time through PRIME in 2015. In the event, he distributed more than 200 business cards and 300 brochures, and networked with 47 firms. His participation has started to bear fruits already and business prospects for Bereket couldn’t be brighter. A couple of companies have already placed orders valued $3,970,000. He has also sent proforma invoice for some and entered into negotiations with about six businesses from Oman, Bahrain, Libya, Egypt and Dubai. “On the whole,” says Bereket, “Business has never looked more promising to me. By the end of April, I expect my sales to grow by at least 25 percent. [read more=”Continue Reading..” less=”Less”]That surely will turn over my business.” USAID, through PRIME, supports participation of Ethiopia’s export abattoirs, live animal exporters, milk processors, and government focal persons in Gulf Food Fair every year.

Bereket Demeke, Livestock Exporter (middle), is negotiating with live animal importers at the Gulf Food Fair. USAID-PRIME supported 14 businesses and a government focal person to participate in the 2015 event, which was held from 8-12 February 2015. Ethiopian businesses took an advantage of the event to showcase what Ethiopia can offer to the most preferred export destinations markets in the Middle East and beyond. A number of fruitful face to face negotiations were conducted and several business deals were concluded. All traders managed to get contract and other promising business deals; the participation resulted in accruing above $6,210,600 value of foreign currency earnings.

Gulf Food Fair, one of the world’s largest and most important food and beverage industry event, is annually organized by Dubai World Trade Centre in the United Arab Emirates. It is a strategic platform for buyers and sellers to conduct direct business face to face. The exhibition is a showcase for manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers from around the world, representing all of the key sectors within the food and hospitality trade. Every year, it welcomes tens of thousands of trade visitors from around the world at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). With a record 113,398m² in exhibition space and 4,500 companies from 120 countries participating, Gulfood 2015 was the largest edition in the event’s history. Please click the link to download the success story, Gulf Food Fair Visits Turn Over Businesses


PRIME Reduces Food Loss through Supporting Businesses

Food loss represents a major global concern. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, one-third of food intended for human consumption is lost globally. In sub Saharan African countries, significant portion of food produced is lost after harvest, as of 2011, making postharvest handling a major issue for the agricultural sector. Yet, most countries often overlook the issue largely, focusing their agricultural efforts on increasing yields or improving access to markets. Ethiopia is no exception. The focus on reducing post-harvest crop losses is rather minimal.

In Babile woreda, like in other parts of Ethiopia, farmers use traditional threshing methods of separating grain from the chaff by beating the grain repeatedly using thick sticks. Estimates indicate that the use of such traditional practices contribute to around six percent of grain loss, undermining efforts to ensure household food security tremendously. The practice is also time consuming, laborious and costly. For example, using the hired labor; farmers estimated that 12 to 14 hours are required to thresh a ton of sorghum – which costs them around 1,328 ETB or more than USD 66 or around 133ETB/ nearly USD 7 per 100k. There is no sign that government extension programs have any plans to tackle postharvest loss; nor is any strategy in place to create access to improved time and labor saving crop threshing technologies.

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Under its objectives of creating and diversifying livelihoods, USAID-PRIME partnering with a private crop threshing machine supplier and interested farmer cooperatives, has facilitated piloting of a small scale motorized sorghum thresher in two kebeles of Babile woreda. The project has supported farmer cooperatives through a cost share to facilitate payment-based crop threshing service provision for the surrounding farmers. The piloted machine has a threshing capacity of 500 to 800 Kgs per hour and costs around 40,000 ETB (USD 2000). PRIME shared the cost of the machine while the cooperatives and machine supplier covered the cost of farm machine testing and training of cooperative members.

The cooperatives have now started providing services. More than a hundred farmers have been able to get the services at a much lower cost of 20 to 25 ETB/100kgs or at about USD 1, a huge reduction in cost. The businesses are also earning reasonable revenues of about ETB 6,000.00 (USD 300.00) in just a month’s time. Apart from the monetary benefits of the farmers and businesses, the introduction of the technology has also significantly saved labor and time for the beneficiary farmers. In short, the following benefits have been derived from the intervention:

  • Threshing cost for 100 kg has been reduced from 132.8 to 20 to 25 ETB
  • Threshing time has been reduced from 12 to 14 hours to nearly 2 hours per ton
  • The time and strenuous effort that women invest in preparing threshing field (sealing the field with cow dung) is circumvented, saving women tremendous precious time and effort.
  • Farmers and development agents estimated that the technology has reduced grain loss by about 66 percent (from 6 to 2 percent).
  • Created two job opportunities for two field technicians.

As increasing household income opportunities is one of the objectives PRIME works to achieve through the facilitation of small business startups that benefit households and create jobs, the project continues to scale up this particular activity so as to stimulate growth, expand businesses and create a better market system that works for the marginalized community. Please click the link to download the success story, PRIME Reduces Food Loss through Supporting Businesses


PRIME Launches an Innovative Intervention to Promote Nutrition

More than 83 percent of Ethiopia’s population lives in rural areas, many as pastoralists and herders, who depend exclusively on the land and their livestock for food and livelihoods. For these populations, securing food and getting enough of the right foods is a daily struggle. Ingrained cultural behaviors like inadequate livestock care, poor maternal health and insufficient infant nutrition make it difficult for pastoralist communities to maintain consistent earnings and healthy families.

Pastoralists’ fragile health and livelihoods inhibit their ability to cope with the harsh conditions — drought, irregular rain, poverty and diminishing natural resources — they’re up against. While these challenges are complex and recurring, changing the lifestyle behaviors that make families more vulnerable will help them stand stronger — and recover faster — in the future.

Like the rest of her pastoralist community members, Dima Halke’s livelihood is milk, and her survival depends on her cows. As the only provider for her eight children, 49-year-old Dima sells milk to buy food, medicine and supplies for her family.[read more=”Continue Reading..” less=”Less”]

When droughts parch the pastures, Dima’s cattle can’t produce the quantity and quality of milk her family relies on. As she struggles to keep her livestock healthy, she must choose to spend precious funds on animal feed instead of food and medicine for her family. If she doesn’t, she risks losing the only livelihood she knows. Awareness and knowledge of keeping animals strong and family members healthy go a long way in ensuring food security and resilience for Dima and other pastoralist community members.

USAID-funded project Pastoralist Areas Resilience Improving through Market Expansion (PRIME) is a five-year project aiming at enhancing resilience, the ability to adapt to climate change, and improved nutritional status of women and children, mainly through improving livestock and livestock products productivity and market systems. PRIME is helping people diversify their incomes, develop reliable farming methods and improve their overall nutritional status. Creating awareness among households to manage their resources better and more efficiently is an important strategy for PRIME to achieve its goals. Last month, in partnership with creative powerhouse Warner Bros., the project launched a radio soap opera to get inside the homes — and minds — of traditional pastoral families in Ethiopia. Through drama, love and conflict, PRIME wants to educate these communities and challenge some of the key behaviors that threaten their long-term food security, health, and wellbeing.

Through the radio soap opera, PRIME aims to transform some of the inherent behaviors and beliefs that prevent these families from thriving. “This initiative taps into the strong Ethiopian tradition of oral storytelling and harnesses the power of stories to entertain and educate,” says Dominic Graham, Ethiopia Country Director for Mercy Corps. “Our goal is to help people facing repeated drought, hunger and poverty improve their long-term health through better decision making.”

Four Warner Bros. volunteers extended their creative expertise to develop interesting characters, compelling storylines and an impactful promotional strategy. They shared best practices for writing and marketing with our Ethiopia staff members to ensure longevity of the program, and spent time in Ethiopia in order to help shape stories that would be compelling and authentic. The result is a radio drama that is on air in Afar, Oromia and Somali, with dialect and characters tailored to each of the three regions. Incorporating the details that make each of these areas unique, like names and common greetings, establishes familiarity and assures each audience can connect with the characters and messages. The program has been on air for a couple of weeks now and the feedback PRIME obtained so far is encouraging. Preliminary findings indicate that people are relating the story with their own lives and the story is generating discussions about marriage, career, success, livelihoods, natural resources, nutrition and wellbeing. How these discussions will lead to better decision making and how they will reflect on nutritional status remains to be seen. PRIME will formally monitor the progress of the soap opera in terms of achieving its short-term objective at the end of the fifth week of transmission. Marketing

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Please click the link to download the success story, PRIME Launches and Innovate Intervention to Promote Nutrition [/read]