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CBA and resilience-building in Ethiopia

Submitted by Anneli Sundin 17th October 2014 14:39


Beleta Hode has been involved in the GRAD programme for 10 months. “Since taking part in GRAD my family is healthier, I bring value to my household and I share my learning with my uncle’s family. We are happier and our future is brighter”. © Josh Estey / CARE

Productive Safety Net Program

The government of Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) provides food and financial resources to 7.4 million chronically food insecure people to help stabilise their income and assets. In operation since 2004, the PSNP works to support rural transformation, prevent asset depletion, encourage household-level production and investment, and promote market development.

A CARE Ethiopia-led consortium project, known as GRAD (Graduation with Resilience to Achieve sustainable Development), aims to move households towards graduation from PSNP, through climate-resilient approaches to diversify their livelihoods, build assets and link to financial services and markets.


Promotion of climate-resilient livelihoods strategies

Increasingly erratic weather patterns in the highland area of Ethiopia are having a negative impact on agricultural production and household income. Affected households need to develop workable adaptation strategies that do not undermine their primary productive assets. The value chain analysis carried out under the project was sensitive to weather and climate-related risks. For example, one of the original crops selected by project communities – red peppers – was severely damaged by sudden-onset rains, but since the communities had already factored in this potential risk, they were able to rapidly adjust crop selection and livelihood options, without significant loss. Climate risk information is shared with communities and adaptation technologies, such as small-scale irrigation, have been introduced.

Capacity development for local civil society and government institutions

The project engages with about 65,000 households, and one important role is to test different implementation strategies and provide learning to interested government stakeholders, particularly the Household Asset Building Program. The project identifies, documents and promotes the interventions that offer the best potential for assuring graduation from PSNP status, at an acceptable cost. A shared learning agenda has been developed to guide additional research into contextual constraints, and different implementation pathways used, to boost positive project outcomes.

Social mobilisation to address the underlying causes of vulnerability

The project is driving an innovative approach to the development of collective organisations, building on local traditions, to establish Village Economic and Social Associations (VESAs). VESAs are the focal point for many project interventions and provide an inclusive environment for building the knowledge and capacities of women and men in savings and credit, financial literacy, small business planning/management, and other economic skills.

Building on the VESA loan system, households are also assisted to access longer-term agricultural loans from formal microfinance institutions (MFIs). MFIs did not previously provide services to poor and food-insecure households, but since the project provides loan guarantees to MFIs they are now able to accept poor households as clients. Engaging MFIs and helping them forge lasting relationships with food-insecure households is important because multiple loan cycles are essential for more vulnerable households to access and become established in a market value chain.

Disaster risk reduction strategies to reduce the impact of hazards on vulnerable households

The project’s analysis involved hazard mapping, which engages community members in developing community maps, either on flipchart paper or on the ground, using local materials. This process enables the identification of important livelihood resources and hazards (both climate-related and other) affecting, and the coping mechanisms used by, different groups within the community. Impact chains are also used to visualise the direct and indirect impacts of hazards on community livelihoods and social fabric. Impact chains help to move communities away from generalised thinking (for example, the impact of drought is famine) to looking into more detail about how and why hazards have different impacts on different parts of the community. This helps to identify strategies that directly address climate-related hazards and any opportunities for, or barriers to, adaptation activities.