Poverty Alleviation through Trade and Diversification using Community Participation in Rural Ethiopia
One in seven of the Earth’s people live in grinding poverty, while many of us live with every luxury conceivable. But this is hidden poverty. Such inequality is a blight on humanity, yet this situation shows no signs of ending any time soon.
Three primary routes to poverty are:
1 Low aspirations and poor social structure
2 Lack of jobs, income opportunities or ways to be self-sufficient
3 Remoteness from trading centres, either by lack of transport or
by lack of communication
These apply equally to the North East of England now as they do to the highlands of Ethiopia. They have applied throughout all of human history and as such these three themes form the central pillars to our project design.
Three-quarters of all hungry people live in rural areas, mainly in the villages of Asia and Africa. Overwhelmingly dependent on agriculture for their food, these populations have no alternative source of income or employment.
World Food Programme
There are hungry people in Ethiopia, but they are hungry because they have no money, not because there is no food to buy.
Dr. Tewolde Egziabher
Four simple ways to reduce firewood needs
A solar cooker, a fireless insulated cooker, an energy efficient stove and a plastic bag biogas digester
Download our project concept note
Our pioneering project aims to encourage non-farming diversification and trade through structured participation that will raise aspirations and community cooperation.
By enhancing cottage industries and providing pack animal transport services we aim to stimulate livelihood strategies that will allow men and women to escape crushing poverty.
Our ultra-cheap biogas digester will complement the project and allow the most poor to take advantage of appropriate technology
The problem: when the4Cs’ member Kevin McBriarty conducted field research in two extremely poor regions of rural Ethiopia in 2010 with CARE Ethiopia, what was striking was the lack of any other non-farming income opportunities. For those with insufficient land or no land at all (common among young people) the survey participants told us there was almost no way of achieving a viable livelihood. These regions were dotted with isolated households; no villages with trades to offer, no shops with basic commodities, no cottage industries, no transport and no infrastructure; skills are lacking, and above all, aspirations for change are severely limited. It is this, the4Cs believes, that is the underlying cause for such suffering and grinding poverty.
The4Cs are arguing that current approaches to rural poverty aimed at intensifying farming (crop yields and animal rearing) are in fact a route to increased vulnerability and dependency if they are not done alongside programmes to increase general trading, small-scale manufacturing and service provision.
Our solution: working closely with the target community, 25 households will engage directly in activities. Our approach has three unique key elements:
Additionally, the4Cs is developing a new anaerobic biogas digester that will be extremely simple and cheap, purposely intended for poor rural households. Current common designs, although relatively cheap, are out of the range of these people. Although such a digester would not be suitable for every location and situation, it would be an ideal source of fuel for many households. As an initial trial, the digester will be perfectly suited for use with the donkey team; the donkeys provide sufficient dung and transport for water and so will supply all fuel needs for one family.
By living locally and in simple manner, we have calculated a budget of £9500 for all aspects of the 12 month project, including registration and travel. 25 households would be direct beneficiaries but hundreds more will be influenced by the participatory structure.
Simple technological solutions exist that could greatly enhance livelihoods. Our aim is to provide the impetus for local rural people to actively seek those possibilities. Whether it is time old donkey transportation, weaving looms or modern waterwheels and biogas digesters, they all can bring benefits.
Roads are quickly damaged by rains, and only passable by 4x4’s. Donkeys however, continue to be used in towns and are the ideal transport method in mountainous countryside. Why deliver using costly vehicles when local people could be employed to use pack animals instead?
Testing of our prototype bag digesters. Simplicity and low cost are key factors, enabling even the poorest households to benefit.