“Rural Livelihood Enhancement project Wereilu” Eco-friendly Livelihood Supports
MELCA-Ethiopia with financial support obtained from Bread for the World (BfW) since 2016 have been undertaking mainly Agro ecology and Eco-friendly livelihoods improvement programs in Amhara National Regional State, South Wollo Zone Wereilu Woreda three kebeles through “Rural Livelihood Enhancement” project.
One of program implementing in the project is Eco-friendly livelihoods improvement and Women’s Self-Help Groups (SHGs) are characteristic features of the project. It has supported the establishment and operationalization of a total of 52 SHGs which are congregated into seven Cluster Level Associations (CLAs), each embracing six to eight SHGs. Altogether, some 865 resource-poor women are organized under the 52 SHGs, each of which embracing some 16 members on the average. Basically, these are micro or grassroots saving and credit groupings formed by interested women.
The process launched in the formation of the groups appears to be quite educative, interesting as well as painstaking. At the very initial stage, extensive agitation and awareness creation activities were carried out to convince needy women and bring them on board. Three women, residents in Woreilu Woreda 06 and 011 Kebele lived in different villages, were contacted to tell their stories of engagement in self-help groups (SHGs).
The first story teller was Mrs. Tayitu Yesuf. She is a widow and mother of five children (3 females and 2 males), the two elder children being grade nine students. She is a member of Addis Alem (or Abebaw Shegen) SHG established in 2016, which currently embraces 20 members. She explained that she had been extremely suffering raising and educating her children single handedly. Before the project, she only had two small plots of land, a cow and a hen. She said she had rented the two plots out to other farmers on the basis of sharing produce. She had been a participant in the safety net programme engaging in labour based civil works in her locality. Her previous home was quite dilapidated and uninhabitable. Generally, for her, life was pitch-dark before the advent of MELCA’s project.
As she had been almost in limbo, having nothing to do to address the growing basic needs of her five children, a woman called Meseret, who is her fellow community member and well known in her locality, had visited her. The visitor had come with the idea of the need for poor women to get organized in their locality. And, to make the long story short, upon the advice and strong insistence of the well-spirited visitor, Mrs. Tayitu finally happened to join Addis Alem SHG beginning with five Birr saving per week.
Subsequently, based on the status of her initial saving effort and level of neediness, Mrs. Tayitu had been given three ewes (breeding sheep) by MELCA project to augment her livelihood. After a while, the SHG had started issuing credit to its members and she received three cycles of credit, the last one amounting to Birr 1,500. Currently, the saving rate per head has risen to 15 Birr every week, each member having a deposit of Birr 1,925, which totals to Birr 38,500 at the SHG level at the time of the visit. Moreover, she had sold six lambs (young male sheep) reproduced from the initial three ewes she had received from the project at a total cost of 5,150 Birr, which she said had used it in the construction of her house in addition to the 12,000 Birr proceed/sale of a cow she had previously.
Generally, she explained that, thanks to MELCA, life now is quite better than the previous time. “Now, I am feeding, clothing and schooling my children without much hassle and suffering” she confirmed. She is cultivating and producing grains for household. She also said that she is even using a solar lamp for lighting her house, which is also the outcome of the project’s support.
The second story teller is called Mrs. Fatuma Mohammed from 011 Kebelle, Wereillu District. She is 25 years old having three sons. She is a member of Melkam SHG, which has 15 members. She had joined the Group with Birr 5 saving per week, which currently has risen to Birr 15.
She said MELCA had provided her with four ewes for rearing. With time, the ewes had reproduced and she sold five of them at a total cost of Birr 11,500 and recently bought a cow with Birr 12,000. During the visit, it was learned that she had five ewes, a lamb, and a baby sheep in addition to the cow. Her saving deposit at the time of the visit was Birr 2,280. So far, she had borrowed four times from her Group, the last one being Birr 1,740. In a nutshell, she explained that there is improvement in her household income and life in many respects compared to her previous situation.
The third respondent met was Mrs. Ayalnesh Muhe from 011 Kebelle. She is a member of Kogno Self Help Group (SHG) having 10 members. At the time of the visit, she was saving Birr 15 a week and had a deposit of Birr 2,360. She said the project had given her four ewes. So far, she has sold 11 lambs reproduced from the four ewes. Besides the small sheep husbandry practice, she was also engaged in a petty trading of some basic consumer goods, including edible oil, sugar, tea, soap, soft drinks, etc. inside her house for augmenting her household income. She had borrowed trice from her SHG ranging from the first one Birr 900 to the last one Birr 1,200. She had also withdrawn loan from her CLA amounting to Birr 3,000. She had bought two lambs for fattening. Generally she is doing quite better these days than previously in terms of her household income and livelihood status.