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.
Tsehainesh no more needy
Tsehaynesh Kalayu is 45 years old. She lives in Hashange Kebele of Ofla District. She is a widow with four children. Her husband left her as he could not cope with the deep poverty the household suffered. Before the project started, she worked as daily laborer and sold local drink. However, her income did not cover the family’s basic expenses including food, medication, cloth and schooling.
Her membership in the cooperative supported by the project gave her the opportunity to interact with fellow women. Gradually, her awareness and knowledge on women’s right and income generation options improved. In addition, the support of four female sheep and first revolving loan of 57.00 USD helped her expand her business of local drink while managing her sheep rearing activity.
Currently her four sheep are multiplied to 18 and five of them will give birth to new shots. Tsehaynesh took rounds of loan from the cooperative and engaged widely in local drink selling. She also bought an ox and started farming. Tsehaynesh’s income is now growing and she has a saving of over 280 USD in her cooperative’s account. She is now planning to upgrade her small hut into bigger house.
Now she can afford her families daily expenditure and her recognition with in the community is also growing. She is currently an executive member of her cooperative’s leadership. She supports women members and her cooperative.