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This further reduced the nutrition of households that were dependent on livestock for food and income. In addition, many farmers experienced harvest failure following the erratic and below-average rainfall, extended dry spells as well as attack by pests. Others were unable to plant due to a lack of seeds and the loss of their oxen used for ploughing.

In response to the needs of these communities, from April 2017 to Sept 2018, Christian Aid in partnership with local partners and the DEC East Africa Appeal Fund, has been implementing a phased approach in the Bena Tsemay and Malle districts of South Omo.

The project was designed to benefit over 50,000 communities by improving access to safe water, providing unconditional cash for the most vulnerable groups, support to protect and improve livelihoods and small business grants to improve the income of women self-help group members.

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Key information


Ethiopia, SNNP Region, South Omo Zone, Malle and Bena Tsemay districts


1st phase April 01 to Sept 30 2017 and 
2nd phase 12 months (From Oct 01, 2017 - Sept 30, 2018)

Target population::

50,032 Individuals (Children, women, PLW, elderly and people with disabilities and men) 
(Implementing) Partners (optional)    Action For Development (AFD) and Women Support Association (WSA)

Funded By::

Disasters Emergency Committee

Our approach

Christian Aid Ethiopia delivers projects and programmes through a partnership model and this particular project was implemented through two partners, Action For Development and Women Support Association.

The first phase focused on life saving interventions in targeted communities. Responses during the first phase included:-

  • unconditional cash transfers
  • water infrastructure and treatment
  • animal feeds and animal treatment.

The second phase added:-

  • provision of boreholes
  • construction of water and irrigation infrastructure
  • training of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) committees and hygiene promoters
  • land management
  • provision of seeds and agricultural tools 
  • Village Savings and Loan Associations
  • Accountability and coordination issues.


This integrated approach was used to complement other aid agencies and government programmes. The programme focused on both relief and early recovery as well as having elements incorporated for long-term sustainability such as water infrastructure and community governance/management.

Affected people and communities, especially vulnerable groups, were engaged effectively at various stages of the programme (design, implementation and monitoring). During the early stage-design period, focus group discussions were conducted with the affected communities to determine their needs and priorities, which were then incorporated into the implementation and monitoring processes. 

Key achievements

12,000 individuals now have improved access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services.This has reduced the prevalence of waterborne disease whilst also cutting down the average travel time to collect water from 1.5 hours to less than 15 minutes which in turn has increased the availability of time for productive work.

Animal health has improved due to the provision of animal feed, treatment and vaccination. This meant that animals were able to be kept for longer before being sold and as a result, households were able to get milk and other dairy products such as butter, which improved their nutrition. 

The program has helped over 3,000 struggling farmers to resume their activities by supplying drought-tolerant seeds, hand tools and training on crop production and pest control as well as construction of small-scale irrigation. As a result of this, the communities have experienced greater food security. 

The small business grants and technical support provided for self-help groups raised awareness of women, increased their participation in resource management and decision-making, enhanced self-confidence and social relations among the members. Women who were involved in self-help groups were able to adapt saving practices and got easy access to credit, thereby enhancing their economic and social empowerment.

The unconditional cash transfers supported the highly food insecure households and vulnerable groups (including women, children, the elderly and disabled) in the communities. This has improved their purchasing power and enabled them to buy food and other essentials.

The communities also gained a better understanding of their accountability as well as the ability to raise complaints and get satisfactory resolution to them.

Seeds and chicken feed transform Zora's Life

Zora Katem is a wife and mother of three. When we visited her in August 2018 she was overwhelmed with joy at her household’s current state of food security. Not so long ago, she and others in her community were counting the losses resulting from the failed rains in Male district of Ethiopia which affected them the previous year. In that season, she lost her livestock including chicken as well as all her savings which amounted to 900 Birr or £25.

The self-help group she joined consists of 20 women from her village and the programme supplied them with start-up capital both in cash as well as chickens and chicken feed. 

Zora received six chickens which she plans to breed commercially. In addition, she also received drought resistance seed capital in the form of sorghum, maize and Haricot beans. “Being a member of the Bona self help group has changed our life as a family,” said Zora. 

Each member contributes 5 Birr or £0.14 per week which goes into a savings kitty, where the members can take capital for their different business initiatives. The group was initially given 8000 birr or £223 and through various investment initiatives they had grown this to 14,000 Birr or £390. 

Theirs is one of 68 groups which have received seed capital as part of the programme’s objective to ensure the community in Bena tsemay district build their resilience to climate change. 

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Ayano's garden goodness

Ayano Uraya recalls how she used to walk for an hour and a half to the nearest water, which was usually a pool from a drying river.

Most of the water she collected was for her family’s daily consumption with little going to water her farm. During the last failed rainy season, their situation was so dire, she had to sell all her livestock to buy food for the family.

Her situation improved significantly with the construction of a borehole that draws its water from natural springs. “This water is clean and fresh and our children now do not suffer from waterborne diseases,” said Ayano. 

The programme also provided Ayano and her family with seeds for growing maize, sorghum and beans and coupled with access to clean water, Ayano has revived her vegetable garden which has enabled her to sell some her surplus harvest and acquire two goats and three cows.

Adashe Ayele’s bountiful harvest

Adashe and his wife are an extremely grateful couple. Today they have food in their store-house and a surplus to sell. Their last harvest of maize, beans and sorghum combined totalled 1300 kilograms. From this they intend to keep 800Kgs for family consumption, this will guarantee them food for the next three to four months. The remaining will be sold to help them meet school fees for their children.

This was not the case last year in September 2017. The situation then was dire as the family was experiencing the full brunt of climate change in South Omo. The rains failed again and this meant a great deal of uncertainty concerning the food situation not only for their family but for their community. 

Through the programme, Adashe received money to buy drought-resistant seed and he was able to plant it on a six-acre plot of land. Part of the money from the sale of the surplus harvest will also go to purchasing livestock, such as goats and chicken. 

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