CHF is currently working in the most drought-prone and insecure region of Ethiopia – the Somali state, which is located in the country’s southeastern corner bordering Somalia. Through the USAID-funded SHAPE program (Sustainable Humanitarian Assistance Program for Ethiopia), CHF has been helping drought-affected and food-insecure communities to increase their assets and improve their livelihoods.
One of the cornerstones of the SHAPE program is the development of Asset Building Groups (ABGs). The purpose of the groups is to encourage community members to pool resources and use their collective skills and knowledge to launch small-scale, income-generating enterprises.
Each ABG consists of 50-80 self-selected individuals. The enterprises they engage in vary from small-scale agricultural production to petty trade to water transportation. For each collective venture CHF provides start-up resources and basic management training. In the case, of small-scale agricultures ABGs, CHF provides a pumps and basic tools so that members can irrigate their fields and sustain two growing seasons rather than just one. For the petty trade ABGs, members receive start up capital to set up a shop and basic business management training. One of the most successful ventures has been the water transport ABGs. CHF provides each group member with a donkey, cart and barrel for collecting and transporting water, which they then sell.
Currently, there are 79 ABGs in operation. Most of the ABG participants are women and many of them are widows and single-headed households. Some of the more successful members now earn up to 80 birr (almost $5) a day, where previously they earned nothing.
In addition to the ABGs, CHF is helping drought-affected communities by building and repairing shallow wells. Many of the people in the Somali region are pastoralists and one of their most valuable assets is their livestock. The construction of shallow wells is helping these communities to keep their animals healthy and alive during the most difficult times.
Learn more about CHF's drought response activities in East Africa.