Women growing resilient against shocks ActionAid’s project “Sustainable Livelihood for women and their families” succeeded in transforming 5107 women from acute poverty to decent leaving in Ofla Woreda of the Tigray Regional State during the last three years. These women are less affected by the current drought which made many people in their area live on food aid.
To ensure the livelihood of the women having 17000 family members, the project first supplied the first batch of beneficiaries, 1700, with 6800 shoats (sheep and goats). Every woman received four female sheep/goats. In 18 months each of these women transferred four offspring to the next targeted 1700 women and the trend continued. By the end of 2015, the total saving of the women organized under 13 cooperatives reached 536,815 USD. The project financed by the Pharo Foundation is executed in partnership with the Woreda Government, during April 2012 to March 2015.
The revolving loan enabled the women to engage in small scale businesses and to diversify their income sources. The amount of loan ranged from 57- 229 USD based on the business plan they developed and submitted to respective cooperatives. Animal management, business skill and entrepreneurship training as well as support to cooperatives in constructing and furnishing offices were also among the support from ActionAid.
Over three years back, most of the women worked as daily laborers and domestic helpers for better off farmers in the area. Some were also involved in commercial sex work. Their annual income was average of 208 USD compared to USD 483 currently. Less than half of the targeted women practiced inconsistent type of saving before the project. Currently, all the 5,107 cooperative members save a minimum of 1.3 USD monthly. The women’s saving serves as the largest loan resource in the area. Animal fattening, retailing goods, running small café and restaurants and shops are among the businesses they run. In general, about 68% project target women built more than two income sources as compared to 28% before the intervention.Ofla District is one of the areas affected by the 2015 global El Nino effect. However, thanks to the support of the project, women in 13 project target areas are able to cope up the drought effect without external support. Their diversified income source helped the women to withstand the natural shocks. Furthermore, the project enhanced women’s’ participation in public socio -economic events. Over 52 women supported by project are now involved as leaders in the kebelle/village land use administration office, social courts, kebele women associations and local net-works.
Women lead their cooperatives. This enhanced their confidence and assertiveness. “We took no share during divorce in the past, now women claim equal share of resource and we as a group also fight to ensure equal share.”
To ensure sustainability, the 13 saving and credit cooperatives supported by the project formed Ofla saving and credit Union, at the district center. The Union provides leadership and business skill trainings, audit service and loan provision. In general, it gives bank services for the district and surrounding community.
Aberu affords living
Aberu Tumay 41 lives in Hugumburda area, where the Pharo Foundation intervenes. She is married with two children. Before advent of the Pharo Foundation project, she was a house wife, fully dependent on her husband’s little income.
In the 2013, Aberu joined Ado Women Saving and Credit Cooperative. ActionAid and Pharo Foundation gave her and fellow women trainings in cooperative principles, basic business skill, entrepreneurship and animal management. Following the training she was provided with four female sheep as initial resources. At that time she started saving 1.5 USD. Her participation in the cooperative was growing and now she is elected as chairperson of this.
Explaining changes in her family Aberu said, The Pharo Foundation dramatically changed my living situation. All the skill trainings, the four female sheep and rounds of loan I took helped me to engage in various small businesses. Now, I have a total of 14 sheep and my saving has increased to 11 USD per month. I now own a small bar where I sell tea, soft drink and traditional alcoholic drinks. I have also introduced billiard game from which I earn 1.5 -2.0 USD daily.
Thanks God and thanks to ActionAid, now I am managing my business very well. My social and economic status is improved. I have confidence and determination now.Aberu is now elected as a member of Kebele council where she decides on issues affecting lives of women living in poverty.