CHURCH BASED COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION RESILIENT AGRICULTURE & SAVINGS GROUPS IN ETHIOPIA
The Project at a Glance:
Church-based community transformation, Resilient Agriculture and & Savings Group – In Partnership with the Local Church
Location – Wolaita Zone, SNNPR, Ethiopia
Local Church Partners –
- Wolaita Kale Heywet Church – Terepeza Development Association (TDA), 300km South of Addis Ababa.
People Impacted –
- 8,600 farm families
- 5,109 Savings Group families
Women Impacted – 53%
Total Project Funding Requirement 2019-2021 – $450,000 per year
Poverty in Ethiopia is widespread, with the country ranking 173rd out of 189 on the 2018 United Nations Human Development Index. The majority of the people depend on farming for their livelihood, yet Ethiopia’s agriculture is plagued by recurrent drought, deforestation, poor infrastructure, and increasing population, causing severe constraints on agricultural production.
Market linkages are weak, and increased farming practices, tools and technologies are limited. Despite challenges to agriculture, farming livelihoods can be a solution to poverty and food insecurity.
The evangelical church is growing but has a limited impact on its community surrounding it. This is starting to change.
This project provides sustainable solutions to poverty and insecurity through conservation agriculture and Village Savings self-help groups. These programs show households how to effectively farm, save and leverage their small incomes, and provide loans to purchase seeds and tools, start businesses, and pay school fees. These programs are initiated by the Terepeza Development Association, the community development arm of Ethiopia’s Wolaita Kale Heywet Church. Strategic churches are being trained in Church-based Community transformation to help churches to spread the mission of the integral gospel, lift people out of poverty, and transform their communities.
- Lack of access to financial services.
- Food insecurity and malnutrition. The hunger season lasts from February to June every year in Wolaita – and that is if there is no drought! The average family lives 3 to 7 months on one meal per day.
- No access to formal banking, therefore no access to capital.
- Very small farms of an average of one acre in size support a family of seven.
- Farming is very difficult not only because of periodic drought but also due to soil degradation due to:
- Over tilling
- Traditional farming
- Changes in Climate
Farmers learn Conservation Agriculture – a set of soil management practices that minimizes the disruption of the soil’s structure, composition, and natural biodiversity. The techniques they will learn include:
- Mulching or maintaining soil cover:
– Keeps available moisture in the soil
– Prevents erosion
– Improves soil fertility when it decomposes
– Suppresses weeds
- No-till cultivation or minimal mechanical disruption of the soil:
– Retains water and organic matter
– Keeps organic matter close to the surface
– Reduces labor and machine expenses
- Smart crop rotation:
– Keeps more land in production
– Disrupts the development of diseases and pests
– Preserves land capacity indefinitely
Economic Development – Self Help Groups
A self-help group is a village-based financial cooperative composed of 10–20 people (primarily women). Through regular, very small savings contributions, each group builds up loan funds to help members exit poverty through building small businesses and accessing a loan fund to pay for emergencies and basics like school fees and health care. These groups provide additional benefits to their communities:
- Social cohesion grows
- Women bring in income, changing the gender dynamics in their households
How we work with the Local Church:
Tearfund works with national church relief and development arms and local churches. They are part of the largest social service network in the world! We recognize that sustainable solutions to poverty require whole-life transformations – physical, economic, emotional and spiritual.
Work done in the last year:
- 3,200 farmers trained, mentored and practicing conservation agriculture, benefitting 42,500 people in southern Ethiopia.
- 3,360 men and women have been recruited and trained on how to save money, manage small micro-businesses and lend among the group as part of Self Help Groups.
Farms in Ethiopia have gotten smaller and smaller as land has been split between families’ offspring. As a result, Wolde inherited poor farmland that was limited and overworked. Learning new techniques to replenish the soil while reaping higher yields, Wolde has seen incredible results – in increased harvests for less labor, and a new desire to love and steward God’s creation through sustainable farming.
Before, he and his family suffered through 6 months of the lean season, with only one meal a day. Now Wolde is now harvesting an abundance, and is caring for God’s creation as he replenishes the soil!
“The soil is now improving, and growing better crops. This farming method repairs the soil problems that were caused by erosion and wind when we tilled the land too much. We are farming God’s way. We are excited about this next year’s crop, it is way more than we had ever seen before.”