Improving Lives through Vocational Training in Ethiopia

Improving Lives through Vocational Training in Ethiopia: 

Vocational skills training through the USAID/OFDA-funded RECOVER program

Ahmed BadalAhmed Badal’s Journey

Ahmed Badal Hire is head of a household of eight family members. His family lost their livelihood during the 2011 drought when all of their 30 sheep and goats, and all but one of their 25 cattle died.  

In despair, he left his family in the desert of the remote Harweyn area where they used to keep their livestock, and came to Gode town some 140km away, hoping to find some sort of employment. One of the challenges he encountered was his lack of skills to be employed even as a daily laborer. He did manage to find work loading and unloading goods from trucks, although the competition for even this job was high, since many others were jobless, too. And although he was working, he and his family still suffered greatly, since his daily earnings of about 25 Ethiopian Birr (ETB) were not  nearly enough to cover their basic needs, medical expenses and school fees. 

He considers himself fortunate to have been selected to participate in vocational skills training, part of the RECOVER program operated by Global Communities and funded by USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). RECOVER aims to improve and diversify livelihoods for people in vulnerable communities. According to Ahmed, “It was with great enthusiasm that I joined other trainees, as a lack of skills was the main reason I had trouble getting employed in town.” Through extensive training, he gained valuable skills in masonry, including carving and shaping cobblestones for roads and sidewalks, as well as other masonry skills. In addition to learning vocational skills, participants also receive training in savings and credit, group management and record keeping, to help them learn to build and manage a business and their assets.

After successfully completing his training, Ahmed graduated along with 50 others and joined an asset building group (ABG), where he learns savings tips and discusses challenges and how to overcome them. Asset building groups are made up of community members who engage in a business venture that benefits from increased collective productive capacity and bargaining power. Ahmed and his fellow group members also share a collection of basic masonry tools provided by the program. Ahmed’s first job after graduation was as a paver; he laid cobblestones on one of the main roads in downtown Gode, and today, he is employed by Gode Municipality on an infrastructure upgrading project, for which he earns 1,500 ETB a week. He supplements the income from this job by producing and selling cobblestones to the municipality; he produces 50-60 cobblestones per day which he sells for 4 ETB each. He attends meetings with members of the ABG and contributes weekly to the group’s savings plan. He also saves individually; within a short period, he has saved a total of more than 15,000 ETB. 

Ahmed and his family are very happy that he now has great skills that enable him to support his family. “Thanks to Global Communities for supporting me in the Vocational Skills Training; now my family and I are no longer worried about the effects of drought, as I now have skills that I can rely on to take care of my family’s needs no matter what the weather is.”

Global Communities’ mission is to serve as a catalyst for long-lasting positive change in low- and moderate-income communities around the world, helping them improve their social, economic, and environmental conditions. Global Communities has been providing technical expertise and leadership in international and domestic development for more than 60 years and operates programs in about 25 countries each year