Photo credit:Robert Sauers, USAID Ethiopia
Dhaki Faranjicha lives with her family in a remote village in the Guradhere Kebele, in Borena. Getting to her home takes about 40 minutes by car from Negele followed by a 45 minute walk on foot through the rugged terrain. Early in the morning as the sun rises, you can start seeing the trees common to the area. Ethiopia’s pastoral population is estimated at 12-15 million people, most of whom live in the arid or semi-arid drylands that cover about 60 percent of the country. Periodic droughts, such as the 2011 Horn of Africa drought (one of the worst in 60 years), are a perennial challenge to these people’s livelihoods. By integrating near-term relief and longer-term development interventions, USAID has generated a model approach to building resilience. Predominant livelihoods are livestock, but that is changing with the need for diversification.
Dhaki and her family get up at sunrise and she starts a fire to cook for her children. Her oldest son, Liban Wako, age five, and her daughter, Badhane Wako, age three, finish their breakfast and help their mother with the household chores. The house’s front door faces west, so the interior is very dark in the morning.
After breakfast, Dhaki and her two sons, Liban Wako, age five, and Kenanisa Wako, age three, enter the pen to start milking their cows.
Dhaki and her five-year-old son Liban let the calf into the pen to get a drink and get the milk flowing before she begins milking.
Dhaki is experienced and quickly collects the milk for the day. What her family doesn’t drink will be sold in the market in Negele.
Tato Banata Wario, Dhaki’s brother-in-law, also lives in the village and takes care of the camels. Of course, the baby camels also get an early morning drink before Tato milks the camels. Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of drought in Ethiopia’s drylands, making the already-unreliable rains even less certain. In turn, this reduces productivity of livestock and agriculture, and intensifies competition for water and other resources. This can lead to community conflict and further degradation of resources. By engaging communities on water management, facilitating conflict management and resolution, and brokering dialogue between traditional and formal political systems, USAID is increasing the resilience of pastoralist communities.
Dhaki bought a goat with income from selling milk and the baby also knows to get a drink of milk to stay healthy. Ethiopia’s livestock population is among the largest of any country in the world, and the largest in sub-Saharan Africa. But despite this enormous livestock resource, the sector remains undeveloped. USAID’s livestock and market expansion activities support animal productivity, animal health, and market access for pastoralists. For example, to increase smallholders’ bargaining power in the market and help them develop improved structures for milk collection, it is supporting livestock and dairy marketing groups like Dhaki’s.
Dhaki’s neighbors also milk their cows and sell the milk to Dhaki. After confirming that the milk is fresh, she pours it into her containers that she will take to town to sell.
Wako Banata, Dhaki’s husband, helps her wrap up the milk containers so that she can easily carry them to town.
Dhaki leaves her village on foot with the milk. It is a 45 minute walk to get to a place where she can get a Bajaj to take her the rest of the way into Negele.
During her trek to the taxi area, Dhaki occasionally pass other women and community members heading to or from town, or on various chores.
As Dhaki hikes to town, the sun starts getting more intense. The landscape is semiarid grasslands with scrubby trees. Dhaki has a mobile phone to communicate with other women that may meet her on the way to sell Dhaki their milk. Her route connects with the main dirt road near some impressively big boulders, a bridge construction site, and a well where women pump water.
Dhaki arrives at the taxi area where many other women have come to sell their milk at the side of the road. Dhaki used to sit all day in the sun like these women hoping to sell her milk. Because of the USAID intervention, she now takes her milk directly to town and sells it every day for a higher price and without having to wait in the sun all day. Without a formal outlet facility for their milk, women often sell it on the street every day. When they first begin selling in the morning, it is fresh, but as the afternoon sun heats the streets, the milk sours and the price drops.
Dhaki rides in a Bajaj with her milk to Negele town. In Ethiopia, demand for high-quality dairy products is on the rise, with rates of consumption predicted to increase by almost 60 percent by 2020. In response, USAID is strengthening private-sector market linkages all along the dairy value chain — between producers and local milk collectors, such as Abdi and Dhaki in Negele, and between small-scale producers and regional and national markets, such as in Ethiopia’s Somali Region, where USAID is supporting construction of the region’s first milk processing plant.
Dhaki arrives at the milk collection center in Negele. In addition to strengthening market linkages, USAID and its partners have been working to help small-scale milk producers and aggregators improve milk quality throughout the value chain, from outreach activities that target animal health and feeding practices and proper milk hygiene, to quality control tests in collection centers to check for freshness and purity. Abdi, for example, has trained the women in Dhaki’s community of milk producers how to produce and maintain safe, sanitary milk.
With support from USAID, Abdi opened this milk collection and distribution center. He purchases from women like Dhaki. By supporting entrepreneurs that build and expand formal market structures and improve business practices, USAID is increasing economic opportunities not only for pastoralist dairy producers and small-scale aggregators in the drylands, but also for the wider community (such as through value-added milk processing opportunities). Wider availability of dairy products also expand the variety of nutritious foods available to local consumers.
Abdi’s employees check the quality and quantity of milk from each merchant like Dhaki. The business exchange takes place on the front steps, then Abdi and his staff carry the milk into the shop for measuring, testing, and storage.
Dhaki and another milk seller await while Abdi’s employees calculate the money owed for the amount of milk sold that day. Under its resilience-based development programs, USAID works closely with communities while developing relationships with and between new stakeholders. They support and strengthen pastoralists through improved livestock production and marketing, natural resource management, water supplies, and animal health–as well as by fostering the development of new economic opportunities and alternative livelihoods, small businesses in the private sector, vocational training, fostering new and improved market linkages, and access to financial services. Drought preparedness and response, improved nutrition, access to water, are all interconnected elements of these activities.
Abdi’s employees pour the newly purchased milk into a container where it will be refrigerated until it is sold to customers. Thanks to refrigeration installed at central collection shops like Abdi’s, women like Dhaki who aggregate and sell milk can avoid spoilage, make a larger profit, and have time to attend to other household duties.
With the additional money from selling milk, Dhaki and her husband Wako, can provide a better variety of food for their children, including their daughter Badhane, and will be able to send their children to school. Recognizing that nutrition is an essential component of individual and community resilience, USAID’s programming not only seeks to improve dairy productivity and family incomes, but also to teach the importance of consuming a diverse diet (including protein-rich animal products) during the first 1000 days of life.