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Empowering drought-prone communities of Ethiopia

POSTED April 27, 2020

Empowering drought-prone communities of Ethiopia

How we’ve helped improve livelihood, resilience, savings and more during difficult times in the Langano region

By Gutu Tesso, country director, Ethiopia 


Living in Ethiopia’s Langano region can be challenging, so the region’s people have made a lot of strides in resiliency, a precious commodity these days.

Langano sits in the rift-valley catchment, an area vulnerable to environmental shocks and stresses, causing recurring droughts, which lead to critical food shortages and extreme poverty.

But, there is hope. Just ask Bessa (above) and Berisso (below) who are reaping the rewards of joining a Saving and Credit Co-operative, established with support from Children Believe and its local partner, Bole Bible Baptist Church.

The co-op began nearly 10 years ago as a network to buy and store grains and seeds to sell at a good price when the region’s agriculture was stunted. Its members paid a nominal membership fee of approximately $2 per month, which encouraged them to save and borrow from the group savings to run businesses, while also accessing basic commodities, such as sugar, oil and soap.

The co-op members could participate in two types of investment: create an individual small business, such as petty trade and vegetable gardening, or launch a group business to buy and sell grain and seed.

Since the initiative began, membership has grown from 35 to more than 100, and the co-op’s assets have increased from about $1,700 to more than $73,000. Members can now feed into more than 3,400-square-feet of land, two grinding mills, a store and sanitation facilities.

It’s changed the lives of Bessa, Berisso and their respective families. They received credit from the co-op and both invested in a tribe of goats, which is a source of milk and income. Berisso also earns money through a donkey-and-cart village transportation service. They both improved their income.

 The benefits of the co-operative are enormous:

  • Living conditions significantly improve for members, who have access to nutritious food, financial support to cover medical expenses, as well as sanitation and hygiene facilities. It also improves school attendance as families can afford educational materials.
  • Members are engaging in income-generating activities, using the co-op’s financial services to build houses, raise livestock and establish petty trade or crop-cultivation businesses.
  • It builds resilience during dry seasons and droughts, which limit harvest.
  • Members of the co-operative have developed a strong savings culture, with the average member able to save $100, compared to nothing before joining the co-op.
  • Women and girls don’t have to travel far to find grain grinding services or grind grain themselves with a traditional stone, which is laborious and time-consuming.
  • It facilitates educational workshops about child rights, gender equality, sanitation and hygiene. It’s also empowering villagers to protect children and women from all forms of violence.
  • The co-op will be investing in the development of extremely marginalized children, supporting their nutrition, health and education.

To learn more about our work in Ethiopia, visit

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Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

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