Credit where it's due
|Credit union profile: Urji Berisa is one of 240 small savings and credit unions being supported by Self Help Africa in Ethiopia. This is their story.|
Alem Abebe is proud of her credit group, proud of the role she has played in an initiative that has ‘transformed the lives and fortunes of hundreds of families’ living in and around Amolo Tebo village in Ethiopia’s Oromia Province.
Chairperson of the Urji Berisa Savings and Credit Co-Operative (SACCO), Alem says that the biggest challenge they face is managing the expectations of members, and satisfying the demands of people who want to join the group.
New peanut crop to fight malnutrition
Ethiopian farmers are now growing peanuts for a widely-used food supplement, thanks to the intervention of Self Help Africa.
A pilot programme in the East Hararghe area of the country sees 200 smallholder famers growing allotments of peanuts alongside their traditional crops, in the knowledge that a secure market is available for their harvest.
|The peanuts will be used to make a a highly-fortified, nutrient rich paste used by relief agencies in feeding malnourished populations. |
Their crop will be sold under contract to a humanitarian organisation, Valid International, who include peanut in their energy-dense, ready to eat food range. Further research support for the initiative has been provided by University College, Cork. Peanuts have significant potential for cultivation in Ethiopia, but their production has been limited in the past for a variety of reasons, including limited knowledge of the crop, poor quality seed, pest damage and uncertain markets.
There is a tradition of production in the East Hararghe, however, and Self Help Africa has collaborated with a number of primary cooperatives attached to the Afran Kelo Farmers Union, with research institutes and with local groundnut processors on the current initiative. Self Help Africa is collaborating with its partners in the project on a range of activities, including the production and distribution
|of good quality peanut seed, the promotion of modern farming practices and post harvest handling and storage of peanuts, and improvement of production and productivity on the participating small farms.|
Potato success in Ethiopia
|Ethiopia is one of a handful of countries in East Africa where the potato is a major food crop.|
Although the government estimates that nearly one-third of a million acres nationally is under potato production, yields are traditionally very low (approx 4 tonnes per acre), with many farmers using small and degenerated tubers from their last crop because they can’t buy better seed stock.
Self Help Africa, whose first work involved the distribution of Irish potato stock in 14 regions of Ethiopia from 1985 to 1987, is now running a major programme to improve access to quality seed potato stock to small-holder farmers.
|There might not seem to be anything extraordinary about an apple – until you witness how income from growing the fruit can help lift people out of poverty.|
In 2006 Self Help Africa brought root stock for 3,800 apple trees from Spain and distributed them to farm producers in upland project areas of two existing area-based projects in the Oromia region of Ethiopia.
More than 40 individual and community nurseries grafted the fruit, while lead farmers in project areas were provided with technical training and assistance to pilot apple production on their farms.
Since then several hundred households in the area have planted apple trees, while efforts are underway at a wider level to secure new markets for the product.
|Self Help Africa has facilited two Irish secondary schools to forge new partnership links with schools in Ethiopia.|
McEgan College in Macroom, Co. Cork, and St. Wolstan's College in Celbridge, Co. Kildare, established the links with post-primary schools in Self Help Africa programme areas, during a recent visit by teachers from the schools to Ethiopia. The linkages are being supported as part of the Irish Aid funded 'Worldwise' programme.
Field visit to Ethiopia
|A group of close to 30 Irish supporters travelled to Ethiopia in late October on the annual fund-raising field visit organised by Self Help to Africa.|
During the trip the group visited Self Help Africa's programmes in Sodo, Huruta, Bora and Butajera, and got an opportunity to meet the local communities with whom the organisation is working.
Participants on Self Help Africa's annual field visits to Africa are required to raise a minimum of €5,000, 50% of which covers the costs of the trip, and the balance is invested in local programmes.
|The expansive rolling pasture lands of Holeta in Eastern Shewa are the scene of a major programme to develop the structures and the potential for dairy production in Ethiopia.|
The initiative is a part of Self Help Africa's agricultural co-operative development programme (ACDP) initiative, and in the past year has seen the organisation extend to 13 the number of dairy co-operatives now operating in the district.
The 496 farmers who are members of the dairy co-ops are being supported with a range of measures including improving livestock blood lines, co-operative management and administration, storage and transportation, feeding methods, marketing, and adding value to dairy produce.
Loan coop transforms village life
|Working full time for the village savings and credit coop, Gete Muleta sees the evidence of its impact every day.|
"It's incredible how much the coop has influenced the activity in our village," says the 37-year-old mother of five. "So many families have benefited, because it's the women who are concentrated in savings and loans."
Small loan 'changed my life'
|When the village savings and credit group started, Tesay Ayele was interested. Living in abject poverty in a small village near Huruta, central Ethiopia, she was 26 years old and married with two children.|
"At that time, we lived in a thatched hut with our animals," she says. "Life was very difficult. When the rains came, the roof leaked."
Funding support for Ethiopian school
|Kella High School in Sodo, Ethiopia, is to receive funding support for new school accommodation, following the annual 'International Bazaar', hosted in Dublin recently by the wives of Irish based diplomats. Self Help Africa was one of four charities to benefit from the annual international Christmas bazaar, and is to receive €19,000 from the event. The funding will go to provide additional school accommodation at Kella School, which was officially opened in September of this year.|
Minister visits Ethiopian projects
|Junior Minister for Food and Horticulture and former leader of The Green Party Trevor Sargent TD visited Self Help's area based project at Sodo, Ethiopia, on a recent fact finding trip.|
The Minister was accompanied on his visit by the newly appointed Irish Ambassador to Ethiopia Sile Maguire, and by members of the North Dublin based Skerries-Sodo Community Group, who are supporters of Self Help Africa's work on the Sodo Project.
Band Aid legacy lives on
|The lasting legacy of funding support that Self Help Africa received from Bob Geldof's Band Aid Trust is to be seen at an irrigation scheme beside Lake Ziway in Adami Tulu, Ethiopia, where an irrigation scheme started nearly 20 years ago now has almost 23,000 farmer members.|
News from our African programmes :
|Listen to reports from Ethiopia|
|Radio journalist Lisa Dee Callery visited Ethiopia recently. Below are items broadcast by Independent Network News (INN) from the trip :|
|Self Help Africa - UK|
Second Floor, Westgate House,Dickens Court,
Hills Lane, Shrewsbury, SY1 1QU
Tel. +44 (0) 1743 277170
|Self Help Africa - Ireland|
Kingsbridge House, 17-22 Parkgate Street,
Dublin 8, Co. Dublin, Ireland
Tel. +353 (0)1 6778880
|Self Help Africa Inc.|
41 Union Square West, Suite 1027
New York, NY 10003, USA
Tel. +1 212 206 0847
|Self Help Africa is a non-profit 501(c) 3 organisation in the United States.|
Self Help Africa is an international charity registered in Ireland and the United Kingdom Registered charity number: 6663 (Ireland), and 298830 (UK)
|Self Help Africa receives|
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